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Press Release

Minister Donohoe Introduces Carbon Offsetting for All Government Air Travel

Published: 12 January 2020
From: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D., today announced the introduction of a new programme to offset the greenhouse gas emissions associated with all Government air travel.

From 1 January, all Government Departments and Offices have been instructed to calculate and record the carbon emissions associated with every flight they take. They are then required to value every tonne of carbon emissions their air travel gives rise to at the prevailing rate of the carbon tax - €26 per tonne in 2020. These funds will then be taken from each Department’s travel budget and allocated to the Government’s Climate Action Fund, where the funds will be used to boost domestic activity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Announcing the measures Minister Donohoe commented: “Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation and it is vital that the public sector leads by example in meeting this challenge. Offsetting emissions is no substitute for changing our behaviour and actually reducing the emissions we produce. However, by increasing the cost of Government air travel and taking this cost from existing travel budgets, it will incentivise Departments to reduce their air travel, while all of the funds raised will go towards new investments in Ireland that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

For commercial flights, Departments are required to use the travel calculator provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation to estimate the emissions associated with each individual flight.

Travel on the Government Jet is also covered by these new procedures, the emissions attributable to which have been calculated by the Department of Defence at 2 tonnes per hour of flight time or 2.66 tonnes per 1,000km travelled per flight.

This means, for example, that a Department wishing to use the Government jet for a 3 hour flight will be required to pay an additional €156 from its travel budget to the Climate Action Fund (2 tonnes per hour X 3 hour flight time X €26 Carbon Tax). For an eight hour return flight, the cost rises to €832 (2 tonnes per hour X 8 hour flight X 2 flights X €26 Carbon Tax).

Each year, Departments will be required to pay an amount equivalent to the emissions impact of their official air travel in the previous year into the Government’s Climate Action Fund, where the funding will be used to boost the level of climate change mitigation taking place in Ireland.

The Climate Action Fund is one of four funds established under the National Development Plan 2018-2027 as part of Project Ireland 2040. The NDP allocates €500m to this Fund. The funds collected from Departments as a result of this new initiative on air travel will result in additional funding going to the Climate Action Fund. The Climate Action Fund is already providing funding of €77m to seven climate projects, leveraging total investments of €300 million. A second round of expressions of interest to the Fund is currently open with a closing date for applications of February 2020.

The circular detailing the new regime for the offsetting of emissions associated with Government air travel is available at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/circular/6d8829-procedures-for-offsetting-the-emissions-associated-with-official-air/