‘Car-ban’ budgets: Draft scheme of new climate law published

The draft general scheme of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 was published by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton today, Monday, January 6.

The minister also confirmed that the scheme, which includes details on the development of carbon budgets and a ban on the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030, is priority legislation for the Government in the new Dáil term.

The Climate Action Plan, published in 2019, is the Government’s plan to ensure Ireland radically reduces emissions in every sector to ensure future climate commitments are met, putting the country on a trajectory to be net zero by 2050.

According to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the new bill aims to enshrine in law the approach outlined in the Climate Action Plan.

This includes:
  • 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; and
  • Establishing that the Climate Action Plan shall be updated annually, with actions in every sector.

It was noted that Minister Bruton is continuing to refine some of the measures and approaches set out in the bill and will work with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action on these.

Under the 2019 Climate Action Plan, the Climate Action Council will replace the existing Climate Change Advisory Council, and will have additional powers to its predecessor.

Carbon budgets

Based on the 2019 Climate Action Plan’s legal requirement for the adoption of carbon budgets, the draft general scheme outlines that three five-year carbon budgets will be calculated on an economy-wide basis for: 2021-2025; 2026-2030; and 2031-2035.

Based on the advice of the Climate Action Council, the minister for climate action and environment will prepare three five-year carbon budgets for Government approval.

These will include the recommended carbon budget permitted in each five-year carbon budget period and a decarbonisation range for each relevant sector for the five-year period within the ceiling of the proposed carbon budgets, according to the department.

2030 fossil fuel car ban

The department also confirmed that a draft head under the scheme is also being developed, aiming to introduce legislation to ban the registration of new fossil fuel cars from 2030 and to stop the granting of NCTs from 2045.

In effect, from 2030 it will not be possible to register any new car which runs on fossil fuel, it was noted.

“This will be developed further in consultation with the relevant departments concerned and will be submitted to Government for approval” later this year, the department added.

Concerns were last week raised in relation to the effect of such a ban on rural dwellers by Offaly TD Carol Nolan.

‘Very short time to act’

Commenting on the scheme today, Minister Bruton said:

“Governance and accountability are at the heart of the Climate Action Plan. We are putting in place the legislative underpinning to ensure the radical step up required is delivered.

“We must act now and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations. Accountability is the key to making progress. We have a very short time to act.

We must put in place a strong framework to ensure every sector, every policy, every decision delivers on the transformation that is required.

“Today represents a hugely important step in putting in place the necessary arrangements to achieve this objective,” the minister concluded.