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Enterprise, the Business Community and Climate Action

Published: 30 December 2019
From: Department of the Taoiseach

1. Introduction

Enterprise and the business community will play a pivotal role in our ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and meet our 2030 and 2050 targets. It shapes the way materials are managed, from raw states to final consumption and disposal. It manages large transport flows. It builds and uses a large share of our buildings and it influences a vast supply chain.

Emissions from enterprise (those associated with the production process) were 13.4% of Ireland’s total emissions, which is less than the EU average of 20%. Of this, 68% falls within the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) which works on the 'cap and trade' principle.

A cap is set on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted by installations covered by the system. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions fall. Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed. They can also buy limited amounts of international credits from emission-saving projects around the world. The limit on the total number of allowances available ensures that they have a value.

After each year a company must surrender enough allowances to cover all its emissions, otherwise heavy fines are imposed. If a company reduces its emissions, it can keep the spare allowances to cover its future needs or else sell them to another company that is short of allowances. The EU ETS covers around 45% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Further information on the EU ETS is available from the EU Commission .

Transition to a low carbon economy will require the transformation of specific sectors, workplaces, enterprises and labour markets. The move to a low-carbon economy will radically change important sectors of our economy, but it will also present new opportunities to those firms on the cutting edge of this transition.

2. Actions and targets

The Climate Action Plan emphasises the importance of activating enterprises in spearheading the transition to a low carbon economy and the improvement of the supports available to firms planning to introduce lower carbon technology into their processes.

This sector is being tasked with reducing GHG emissions by 10%-15% by 2030. The Climate Action Plan identifies that the largest reductions in GHG emissions can be realised in the Cement and Food & Beverage sectors.

Enterprises will also contribute to the more ambitious targets for buildings (40-45% reduction by 2030) and transport (45-50% reduction by 2030) through actions such as improvements to building energy performance and replacement of fleets with electric vehicles, over time.

Actions under the Climate Action Plan include:

  • Engage with the cement and food and drink industry sectors to identify measures to support the achievement of identified potential abatement in these sectors.
  • Drive innovation and efficiency in companies by promoting wider take-up of the EXEED Grant Scheme delivering efficiencies in at least 80 companies.
  • Prioritise decarbonisation as part of enterprise agency strategies and drive the decarbonisation agenda across their respective client bases.
  • Develop networks in key industry sectors and a roadmap of actions to support decarbonisation of large industry.
  • Promote enhanced networking approaches within SEAI Large Industry Energy Network and through the SME Programme.
  • Launch targeted call under the Climate Action Fund .
  • Leverage and mobilise business cluster initiatives under the Regional Enterprise Plans and Future Jobs Ireland 2019.
  • Promote the integration of climate considerations into business operations through the work of the Corporate Social Responsibility Stakeholder Forum
  • Work with all business representative groups, including IBEC, Business in the Community, ISME, SFA, Chambers Ireland, and others to create partnerships of companies that sign up to a low carbon trajectory.

3. Actions completed to date

The first progress report highlighted actions delivered in Q2 and Q3 2019. In addition, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and its agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland , have been laying the groundwork for delivery of subsequent actions for this sector.

Actions delivered in Q2 and Q3 2019 include:

  • Identification of all business cluster initiatives in Regional Enterprise Plans and in Future Jobs Ireland 2019.
  • Initiatives to make employers aware of opportunities to upskill and encourage businesses to implement resource efficiencies.

Please click here to return to the main climate action page.