The first Progress Report on the Climate Action Plan 2021 was published by the government today (Thursday, June 9), detailing progress made on 423 climate action measures due for delivery in the last quarter of 2021 and Q1 2022.

It highlights climate action progress achieved in both quarters, while also emphasising the need to address barriers to implementation.

A completion rate of 73% is reported overall, comprising a delivery rate of 84% on 232 Q4 2021 measures, and 59% on 191 Q1 2022 measures.

A number of the measures delivered have significant potential for emissions reduction or for increasing Ireland’s resilience to climate change, according to the progress report.

Commenting on progress, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “We must redouble our efforts to create a cleaner, more sustainable, and climate neutral Ireland, richer in biodiversity, for future generations.

“The Climate Action Plan is working towards that goal of more resilient and liveable villages, towns, coasts, countryside and cities. We must now further build up capacity to meet the challenges of climate action and close gaps on delivery across the system.”

Minister for the Environment, Climate, and Communications Eamon Ryan also welcomed progress on the 2021 plan.

He said: “The actions achieved so far in the 2021 Climate Action Plan set us on the right path towards emissions reduction, but will also lead to a number of social and economic benefits for people across Ireland.

“This includes more secure energy supplies; better connected transport; warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes; lower energy bills; more sustainable food supplies; greater biodiversity protection; and new job opportunities and resilient incomes for rural and urban communities.”

Climate action progress

The report is structured to highlight sectors with the highest climate impact, to enable better understanding of the measures that will contribute the most to mitigation and adaptation targets.

The report also highlights a number of measures that were not delivered on schedule, albeit many are expected to be completed in Q2 2022.

Key reasons given for their delay include administrative and capacity constraints; desires for alignment with other measures; technical complexity; stakeholder consultation and the pace of the legislative process.

The report highlights the need to overcome these delays in keeping with the urgency of emissions reduction efforts, legally binding carbon budgets and soon-to-be agreed Sectoral Emissions Ceilings that will set specific emissions limits on sectors, including agriculture.

These new ceilings, and accompanying actions, will be outline in the Climate Action Plan 2023, due to be published later this year.

Some key findings of the report

Reducing emissions

  • Initial carbon budget programme for 2021-2035 proposed, outlining the maximum amount of emissions that can be emitted across the economy to achieve emissions reduction targets;
  • Indicative Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction calendar published, accelerating switch to renewables.

Improving building energy efficiency

  • National Retrofit Scheme launched supporting home energy upgrades nationwide;
  • Enhanced Public Sector Pathfinders capital programme to retrofit public buildings.

Enabling better marine and land use

  • Maritime Area Planning Bill enacted, supporting sustainable offshore renewable energy development;
  • Commenced works to restore 33,000ha of peatlands to act as carbon sinks across 81 bogs owned by Bord na Móna.

Supporting farmers and forestry

  • Submitted draft Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan to the EU, detailing desired income supports and plans for farmers in Ireland to reduce emissions;
  • Launched new not-for-profit company to attract private funds to plant more native woodlands.

Supporting the most vulnerable

  • Carbon tax revenues allocated in Budget 2022;
  • Targeted social welfare measures to prevent fuel poverty and support a Just Transition.

Delays in delivering climate action

Some of the key measures delayed in Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 include:

  • Finalise Ireland’s long-term climate strategy;
  • Provide that Local Authorities consider greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of the city/county development plan process;
  • Publish the final High-Level Design for a Microgeneration Support Scheme;
  • Introduce interim regulations amending solar panel planning exemptions;
  • Determine if renewable energy obligation should be introduced in the heat sector;
  • Develop and roll-out a Training of Farm Advisors Programme to 400 public and private advisors in 2021;
  • Increase participation of existing forestry schemes and measures.