The Government yesterday (28th July 2022) agreed to sectoral budgets which are envisaged to provide a 51% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.

 

The Climate Act requires 5 year carbon budgets that set out  the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are permitted in different sectors of the economy during a budget period.  The Climate Act required that the first two carbon budgets (2021-2025 and 2026-2030) should provide for a reduction of 51% in the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (with 2018 as the baseline).

 

However, what the Government announced yesterday is problematic on two fronts. According to calculations by the Climate Change Advisory Committee it only adds up to reductions of 43%, 8% short of the total necessary, with the Government relying on technological solutions to address that gap later on this decade. Additionally, there is no mention of the reductions needed in the 2021-2025 budgetary period. These are more than political failures, or failures of leadership; there is a real possibility that the Government’s announcement yesterday is a legal failure as well, which may not stand up to scrutiny. 

 

Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce said:

 

“By agreeing to these sectoral ceilings the Government is potentially signing up to something which is not aligned with the Climate Act from the very get go. Where has the 2025 budget gone? Why does it only add up to 43% when the law itself requires 51%? It seems like they’re making it up as they go along, but this whole process has to be aligned to the legal requirements of the Climate Act, you can’t simply fudge it. This is a truly chaotic way to budget for the future” 

 

Government seems to be overlooking its own legal obligations with this announcement, and by doing so it introduces significant uncertainty around how the carbon budgets will be delivered, and when.  The Climate Act 2020 was supported by all three Government parties; it is vital that the sectoral budgets be fully aligned with what is legally required.

 

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