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Giving Ireland a Sustainable Future

Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown launches

The Government has, on Monday the 17th of June, published the Climate Action Plan, led by Minister Richard Bruton, to give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future.

The far-reaching Plan sets out over 180 actions, together with hundreds of sub-actions, that need to be taken at a time when the warning signs are growing, and the time for taking action is rapidly reducing.

At a time when we should be radically reducing our reliance on carbon, Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions have been rising rapidly. We are currently 85% dependent on fossil fuels. We have a short window of opportunity to reverse this trend and secure a better, healthier, more resilient future for the country. This means changing the way we heat our homes, the way we travel and the way we power our country.

This Plan identifies how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions, and puts us on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It uses the same model as the Action Plan for Jobs, which was also spear-headed by Minister Richard Bruton and was instrumental in restoring Ireland's economy.

The Plan embraces every relevant sector: electricity, enterprise, housing, heating, transport, agriculture, waste, and the public sector. It is ambitious but realistic. Regarding the Plan’s specific marine-related focus, it will:

  • Establish a system of 5 year carbon budgets and sector targets, with the relevant Minister responsible for delivering on the target, with penalties if they are not met. These targets will be underpinned by a new Climate Action Act. All major government investments and decisions will be carbon-proofed (pp. 35, 36);
  • Move to 70% renewable electricity by 2030, currently only 30% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. The development of offshore renewables will be plan-led and aligned with the National Marine Planning Framework. An offshore electricity grid will also be developed, in tandem with new interconnection. This will allow Ireland to balance its significant renewables potential with security of electricity supply and develop long-term ambitions to export its offshore renewable resources (pp. 54, 55);
  • Support the ocean energy research, development and demonstration of floating wind, tidal and wave technologies, including maximising supply chain and enterprise opportunities (pp. 56);
  • Continue to support the development of blue bioeconomy through such projects as the Clean Oceans Initiative and support the realisation of the value-add from processed marine biological resources (pp. 105);
  • Eliminate non-recyclable plastic, which can find its way into the ocean, and impose higher fees on the production of materials that are difficult to recycle, implement measures to ban single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds (pp. 115, 116);
  • Every public body will be given a climate action mandate by their line Minister to prioritise climate action and new letters of expectation will issue to semi-state bodies on Climate Action (pp. 124, 125);
  • Strengthen our climate support to Small Island Developing States as outlined in ‘Ireland’s Strategy for Partnership with Small Island Developing States’, increasing collaboration on climate action in a number of areas, including ocean and the blue economy (pp. 130).

The Plan also acknowledges ways in which the Government has worked to reduce single use plastics, both at a national and European level, including the commencement of the clean oceans initiative to collect, reduce and reuse marine litter and clean up our marine environment; and the introduction of the new law to ban microbeads (pp. 116).

The Plan includes actions to ensure that citizens become engaged and mobilised to take climate action, while ensuring that the necessary societal and economic transition that we have to make is fair, both in Ireland and globally.  

The Climate Action Plan, like the Action Plan for Jobs, will be annually updated, with actions reported on quarterly. The government today also approved the establishment of the Climate Action Delivery Board to ensure that the delivery of the Plan is overseen by the Taoiseach's office.

Failure to implement these policies to meet our legally binding EU targets could result in a cost to the Exchequer of up to €1.75 billion over the next decade as well as locking Ireland into a future high carbon trajectory.

An Taoiseach said:

"The greatest responsibility we have is to pass on our planet to the next generation in a better condition than we inherited it. With this Plan we are making changes now, before it is too late, to ensure we do exactly that.    

"We recognise that Government doesn't have all the answers. So we will work with people, industry and communities to chart the best and most inclusive way forward. A way forward that is both effective and sensible. One that achieves our targets, and in a way that is thought through and considered, supports employment and living standards and enables a just transition.

"Our approach will be to nudge people and businesses to change behaviour and adapt new technologies through incentives, disincentives, regulations and information. Our objective, as we plan for the future, is to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society. This Plan represents the sum of our hopes for the future. Our call to action in the fight to save our planet."

Minister Bruton said:

"Every generation wants to leave the world in a better place than they found it for their children. We have a short window of opportunity to act. We must act now and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations. This Plan provides our way forward.  

"We are currently 85% dependent on fossil fuels. This Plan sets out radical reforms, which will cut our reliance on carbon, making our businesses more competitive, our homes more sustainable and our farms more efficient. We will be doing things in new, innovative ways. Most of the actions set out will actually save money in the long-run. We will now implement this Plan, rolling out the required actions through a sustained effort.

"This is a life changing journey and it is a rapid, transformative adjustment that is required. Nothing less will do. We must all now take up the challenge."

The Government Climate Plan to tackle climate breakdown has been informed by the work of the Citizens Assembly and the work of the All Party Committee on Climate Action, chaired by Hildegarde Naughton.

The Climate Action Plan puts us on a trajectory to meet our 2030 target for carbon emissions, which is consistent with achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Plan commits to evaluating in detail the changes required to adopt a more ambitious commitment of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In the new Climate Action Act, we will include a 2050 target in law.

The full plan can be accessed on


Initial Publication Date: 
Monday, 17 June, 2019