“We have no time to waste, now the real work begins,” the Green Party said, as Ireland’s “historic” climate bill has been signed into law.

On Friday (July 23), President Michael D. Higgins signed the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.

Following what the Green Party describes as “significant” public consultation and cross-party collaboration, climate legislation in Ireland is now one of the “most stringent” in the world.

The signing of the act brings the commencement of Ireland’s legally binding aim to achieve net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Although sectoral emissions targets have yet to be determined, the act commits Ireland to a 51% reduction in emissions by the end of this decade.

Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action and Green Party spokesperson on climate action Brian Leddin said:

“The urgency and importance of this legislation is starkly demonstrated as we see across every continent in the world the realities of the rapidly escalating climate crisis – with unprecedented flooding and heat domes, communities and livelihoods destroyed and catastrophic damage to wildlife and nature.”

Meanwhile, Green Party senator Pauline O’Reilly, also a member of the climate action committee, said that a just transition “will be at the core” of the climate bill’s implementation, and that “communities across Ireland will be involved throughout the process in order to secure a sustainable future for our children”.

Next steps in climate bill enactment

The next stage of the process will be the preparation of regulations on carbon accounting, in consultation with the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) and consistent with the Paris Agreement and EU rules.

This will be followed by the production of carbon budgets by the CCAC, which will be presented to the Oireachtas and approved by government.

The government will then set sectoral targets/ceilings determining how each sector of the economy will contribute to the achievement of the budgets.

The Climate Action Plan 2021 will be published in early autumn and will set out the measures to be taken to reach our targets in each sector of the economy.