Leadership and Concerted ‘All of Government’  Focus
Hold key to Climate Action Plan (CAP) Success

- Critical and urgent next step is to set out detail of next year

- Delivering CAP would put Ireland to forefront of climate response


The publication today (Thursday, 4 November, 2021) of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a historic moment. It is the first ever commitment by the State to set legally enforceable carbon emissions limits. [1]

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

“Today signals a break with the past that must be embraced. The Plan translates an aspiration, that is easy to talk about and to agree with, into specific commitments for all of the key sectors of the economy.

This is a solid platform on which to build. What is essential now is that the State follows through with the leadership on the actions and the hard numbers required to deliver on the promise of the plan.”

We are on a journey that will last well beyond the lifetime of today’s decision makers, but we are barely at the beginning of that journey. It is essential that we now move quickly from setting targets to articulating ‘how’ we meet them – what are the inputs, and from whom, that will enable these targets to be achieved.

That requires investment, as has been promised. It also requires coherence in the approach of the State that reaches well beyond the realm of partisan politics and the lifetime of any given government.

The scale of the challenge is emphasised by the reality that to achieve the overall headline figures of 51% reduction in emissions by 2030, each sector will need to deliver at the top end of its own specific targets. Were the reductions to only reach the lower end of the ranges given, there will be a very significant shortfall, as illustrated below.

Professor John Sweeney said:

“We quickly need to set out how we will achieve reductions in the next year so we have real and tangible actions towards change that can then be built on, year on year. If we don’t rapidly focus on the details of the next year, we end up pushing all of the delivery of change into later years. Any delay risks increasing the scale and direction of climate damage.

The net effect of delay is to create a greater cost for our children. We can’t burden those least responsible for the current climate emergency with the worst of its impacts”.

Against that backdrop, the Government also has an obligation to support positive change and to maintain the balance between sectors to ensure each is doing its fair share. 

This is not a finished plan but it is a clear statement of intent which, if delivered, would position Ireland among the most active nations of the world in addressing the climate action agenda.

How we progress in the next year will determine ‘if’ that can be achieved and set out a marker for just how serious we are about delivering change and making decisions for which our children and grandchildren will thank us.             


[1] This follows the passing into law earlier this year of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 

Media Contact

Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer
085 7153796
[email protected]