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Latest News and Updates - Climate Action

Published: 8 January 2020
From: Department of the Taoiseach

Ministers McHugh, Bruton and Mitchell O’Connor announce €3 million fund to improve energy efficiency in higher education sector

9 March 2020

The Government has today (Monday 9 March 2020) announced a €3 million pilot programme to improve energy efficiency and support decarbonisation in higher education institutions as part of targets in the Climate Action Plan.

The programme is co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) under Project Ireland 2040, and administered through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Higher education institutions will be invited to apply for funding for projects to be carried out in 2020 and 2021 under the Energy Efficiency and Decarbonisation Pathfinder Programme.

Among the initiatives that will be considered include deep retrofitting of older or low energy efficiency buildings to bring them to at least B2 Building Energy Rating, viable renewable technologies, decarbonisation of heating systems and projects that delivery maximum energy reduction and carbon savings.

The programme will also help to develop and trial scalable approaches to retrofitting in a similar way to a pilot programme which is benefitting 33 schools over the last three years.

Projects being assessed for the €3m pathfinder programme will be measured against national targets, including targets to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiencies in the public sector by 2030.

For more information please click here .

European Commission publishes its proposal for a Climate Law

4 March 2020

The European Commission today presented a proposal to enshrine in legislation the EU's political commitment to be climate neutral by 2050. The European Climate Law sets the 2050 target and the direction of travel for all EU policy. At the same time, the Commission launched a public consultation on the future European Climate Pact. Through this consultation the public will be involved in co-designing this instrument. The Climate Law is a key aspect of the European Green Deal announced in December 2019.

Minister Bruton Publishes Terms & Conditions for Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) First Auction - First Auction will Increase Renewables by 30%

27 February 2020

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, T.D. today (Thursday 27th February 2020) published the Terms and Conditions for the first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction .

The Climate Action Plan is the Government's plan to give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future. A key part of the Plan is a move to 70% renewable electricity by 2030.

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is an auction-based scheme which invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate.

The Government has already agreed the proposed elements of the Scheme which, subject to state aid approval, will make up the first auction set to open later this year:

• Increasing Technology Diversity. The Scheme will be open to a range of technologies that will broaden the renewable energy mix and enhance security of supply. RESS 1 will include a solar category, subject to state aid approval, which would represent approximately 10% of the overall auction.

• Community led category The Government has approved the inclusion of a community category within the auction, subject to state aid approval of up to 30 GWh.

• Community Participation: An obligatory community benefit fund scheme will provide opportunities for communities to play their part in Ireland's renewable energy transition.

The Department held a public consultation on the draft Terms and Conditions in December 2019. On the basis of considerable feedback from over 100 stakeholder responses, a number of amendments were made to the final version now being published. The Terms and Conditions include a comprehensive description of the auction framework, terms of the support and bidder eligibility criteria.

Commencement Date set for Microbeads (Prohibition) Act 2019

20 February 2020

The Microbeads (Prohibition) Act 2019 (Commencement) Order 2020 (S.I. 36 of 2020) , which was signed into law on 6 February by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy T.D, comes into effect today.

The purpose of the Act is to reduce inputs of microplastic pollution into marine and fresh waters.

The Act prohibits the manufacture or placing on the market of cosmetics and personal care products that may be washed or rinsed off with water, as well as household and industrial cleaning products, and that contain plastic microbeads. It also makes it an offence to dispose of any substance containing microbeads by pouring it down the drain or into marine or freshwater environments.

The Act makes the Environmental Protection Agency the responsible authority for its implementation and enforcement, with assistance from the Gardaí or Customs and Excise Officers of the Revenue Commissioners as required.

New report provides first national picture of local authority climate actions

14 January 2020

The Climate Action Plan highlights that our local authorities occupy a pivotal role and can act to demonstrate public sector leadership on climate action in their areas as well as key mobilisers of action at a local and community level.

The Local Government Management Agency has published A Profile of Local Government Climate Actions in Ireland which outlines for the first time the range of actions local authorities have undertaken nationally to tackle climate change and to promote climate action within their communities.

The research, carried out on behalf of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) has found that half of all local authorities will achieve energy savings beyond their 2030 targets and have invested more than €120m in energy efficiency projects, preventing more than 60,000 tonnes of CO2 from being produced.

Outside of energy efficiency, the local government sector has also been proactive in areas including sustainable transport development, flood risk management, water conservation, waste management, nature-based solutions and public engagement.

Introduction of carbon offsetting for all Government air travel

13 Jan 2020

The Government has 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 must 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.

Applications open for Greenway funding from the Carbon Tax Fund

13 January 2020

Applications are now open for Greenway funding following the allocation of an additional €4.5m to Greenways from the Carbon Tax Fund in Budget 2020. This process is being run through Local Authorities.

This funding will be used to help projects through the planning stages and will also be used to support feasibility studies, environmental screenings and detailed design works. In essence it will help us to develop a pipeline of fantastic future Greenway projects.

Growth in Passenger Journey Numbers on ‘Transport For Ireland’ Subsidised Services

8 Jan 2020

Figures show that in 2019, 290 million passenger journeys were provided by Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, Luas and Go-Ahead Ireland on ‘Transport for Ireland’ Public Service Obligation (PSO) services. That is an increase of almost 24m, or 9% compared to 2018.

2020 forestry premium payment to Irish land-owners

8 Jan 2020

The 2020 forestry premium payment to Irish land-owners has commenced. These payments, which are tax-free, will issue to over 7,000 forest owners amounting to a total of €33.24 million.

This tax-free payment illustrates that forestry remains a very viable long-term investment option for farmers providing a regular income stream for up to 15 years after planting and a stable market for timber. This farm-forestry model also allows farmers to diversify their income.

Publication of the draft General Scheme of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019

6 Jan 2020

The Draft General Scheme of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 is a key commitment of the Government’s Climate Action 2019. The Bill aims to enshrine in law the approach outlined in the Climate Action Plan, including:

  • Establishing a 2050 emissions reduction target in law.
  • Making the adoption of carbon budgets a legal requirement.
  • Strengthening the role of the Climate Action Council in recommending the appropriate climate budget and policies.
  • Requiring the Government to set a decarbonisation target range for each sector. The Minister with primary responsibility for each sector will be accountable for delivering the relevant actions to meet the sectoral target and for reporting annually on the delivery of their actions and the achievement of sectoral emission targets.
  • Giving the Oireachtas a central role in the setting of the carbon budget and overseeing progress to delivery.
  • Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030.
  • Establishing that the Climate Action Plan shall be updated annually, with actions in every sector.

Call for expressions of interest for the Climate Action Fund

31 Dec 2019

A key challenge to meeting our Climate Action commitments is financing the changes needed to make the transition. The Climate Action Fund, which is primarily funded by a levy on oil companies, will leverage a multiple of the €500m committed to it by government. Under the first round of the Scheme, up to €77 million for 7 projects was approved.

The second round of the Government's Climate Action Fund is now open and calling for interested parties to register with their expressions of interest . Details on how to take part in the expressions of interest process are available from the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment .

The deadline for receipt of input is Friday 28 February 2020.

Extension of smoky coal ban

17 Dec 2019

The smoky coal ban will be extended to all towns with populations over 10,000 people. The government would not be proceeding with a nationwide ban on smoky coal, on the basis that such a ban carries a serious risk of illegality, unless peat, turf and wet wood were also included.

Funding for community energy upgrades in 2020

16 Dec 2019

A total of €20 million funding for community energy upgrades will be made available in 2020. There will be a particular focus on group retrofits and some funding from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) programmes will be ring-fenced to deliver group retrofits to scale up climate action in communities.

Open to both large and small projects alike, the application process is non-competitive with qualifying applications approved on a first come first served basis. Full details of the scheme, including how to apply are available from www.seai.ie .

Report of the Sustainable Tourism Working Group

12 Dec 2019

The Sustainable Tourism Working Group , established under the aegis of the Tourism Leadership Group, has worked to review international policy and best practice in sustainable tourism and has recommended a series of guiding principles for sustainable tourism development in Ireland.

Publication of updated Public Spending Code

11 Dec 2019

An updated Public Spending Code: A Guide to Evaluating, Planning and Managing Public Investment including the application of the shadow price of carbon was published.

The Public Spending Code (PSC) is the set of roles, procedures and guidance to ensure value for money in public expenditure across the Irish public service and the Code applies to all organisations that spend public money.

As part of the ongoing reform of Ireland’s public investment management system, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has reviewed and updated the PSC.

The update to the PSC specifically strengthens the existing guidance to better reflect the realities of project delivery with a particular focus on financial appraisal, including updating parameter values for the shadow price of carbon which is used to monetise the value of emissions from greenhouse gases.

€1m MacGillycuddy Reeks project to assist with biodiversity

9 Dec 2019

The aim of the McGillycuddy Reeks project is to develop practical, achievable actions and innovative solutions to address the issues facing farmers in the MacGillycuddy Reeks. This will be achieved through the development of a four-year pilot locally led agri-environmental scheme, to restore, preserve and enhance the biodiversity of this unique Natura 2000 area.

Funding for Celtic Interconnector

3 Dec 2019

The €1 billion Celtic Interconnector will connect Ireland's electricity network to France via an underwater connection of some 575kms. Once built, its 700 megawatts capacity will power 450,000 households, and help Ireland to switch to 70% renewable energy as set out in the Government's Climate Action Plan.

A vital part of Project Ireland 2040, the Interconnector is likely to drive down electricity prices for the consumer through increased competition. The interconnector will also provide improved security and diversification of electricity supply. In addition, it will facilitate the further development of renewable energy as Irish renewable electricity can be exported rather than curtailed or restricted, especially at night time when demand for electricity is lower.

Government approval for key design features of first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction

2 Dec 2019

The Government has approved proposed elements of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme . The scheme is essential to allow the growth in renewable electricity under the Climate Action Plan.

The Scheme will be open to a range of technologies that will broaden the renewable energy mix and enhance security of supply. The first auction is set to open early next year, subject to State Aid approval and will deliver up to a 3,000GWh increase in renewable electricity generation by the end of 2022.

Investment in rail network

2 Dec 2019

A new €1 billion, 5-year investment programme in Ireland’s heavy rail infrastructure has been announced. The funding, up 40% on the previous investment programme, will benefit passengers across the rail network through increased service reliability and punctuality, improved journey times and ensuring continued safety of rail services, which are all essential elements in delivering a public transport service which provides the public with an alternative to being reliant on their cars, thereby cutting congestion.

Map of all legal waste collectors to target illegal dumping

28 Nov 2019

A new interactive map is now available on www.mywaste.ie , identifying all legal waste collection companies, in further efforts to tackle illegal dumping.

Approximately €3m of funding has gone into local community measures to tackle illegal dumping under the Anti-Dumping Initiative this year - a 50% increase on last year. This is in addition to the €7.4m annual enforcement grant, which supports the recruitment and retention of 150 local authority waste enforcement personnel across the country. The interactive map will further help tackle the problem.

Publication of the Report of the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Taskforce

28 Nov 2019

The LEV Taskforce has looked at a range of measures and options to help accelerate the shift to LEVs in Ireland. Phase 1 focused on electric vehicles and the first progress report was published in 2018. The focus of this Report is Phase 2 of the Taskforce, which concentrated on other alternative fuels including natural gas (CNG and LNG), biogas, biofuels and hydrogen, and how to encourage their widespread adoption in the transport sector.

Dáil na nÓg delegates calls for action on climate change

23 Nov 2019

As part of the Dáíl 100 celebrations, 168 delegates, aged between 12-17 and elected from each of the 31 Comhairle na Óg all around Ireland attended a special Dáil na nÓg in Leinster House . Dáil na nÓg voted for more climate conscious transport solutions as the number one area for action.

New trails added to Walks Scheme

22 Nov 2019

The Climate Action Plan notes the importance of enhancing and improving walking infrastructure to promote a modal shift away from cars. The Department of Rural and Community Development have added 10 new trails to the Walks Scheme . These are the first trails to be added as part of a phased expansion that will see the Walks Scheme doubling in size to 80 trails when all phases of the expansion are complete.

2019 SEAI national energy research development and demonstration funding programme

21 Nov 2019

The 2019 SEAI National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Funding programme is a government-funded initiative which funds innovative energy research projects.

Up to €4m is available this year to fund research projects which will help to drive Ireland's transition to a clean and secure energy future. Successful applicants will be leading research projects on ways to decarbonise Ireland's national energy supply and will be able to demonstrate potential for promising results.

2020 Forestry Premium Payment

13 Nov 2019

Under the Climate Action Plan, there is a commitment to an average of 8,000 hectares of newly planted forest per year and the sustainable forest management of existing forests. As part of the supports to achieve these targets, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine are providing additional supports to assist forest owners in making their 2020 Forestry Premium Payment application online.

This initiative is part of the Department’s drive to improve the online services that it provides to its customers and is aligned with the e-Government Strategy 2017-2020 objective of adopting a digital first approach to service delivery.

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