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What COP26 means for Irish businesses

What COP26 means for Irish businesses

Due for imminent publication, the Irish Government’s Climate Action Plan is its flagship playbook, detailing how it will deliver its own ambitious emission reduction targets in line with COP26. These targets were enshrined into law via the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act over the summer, with the standout target to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 51% over this decade and to achieving ‘climate neutrality’ by 2050.

In so far that COP26 will solidify the Irish Government’s mandate to deliver its Climate Action Plan fully, there lies opportunities alongside trepidation as business grapples with how the paradigm shift will impact growth.

Under the current coalition Government, with the Green Party as a partner political party, the emphasis has been on a targeted sector-specific approach as means to achieving its own targets. This has drawn criticism from some as reactionary, which can pit sectors against each other as the details of supports and targets are formalised.

Post-COP26 and beyond we can expect the Irish Government to intervene in business in a manner of ways:

  • Construction: Support the delivery of a new strategy that aims to address the barriers to the use of Solid Recovered Fuels in the cement sector.
  • Development: Improve the energy efficiency rating of existing building stock and continue to implement building regulations for renewable heating systems in new builds.
  • Tech: Promote remote working in the view that it holds significant mitigation potential to reduce transport emissions and enable more compact development.
  • Fisheries and offshore wind: Introduce a National Marine Planning Framework – Ireland’s first national framework for sustainably managing our marine activities.
  • Localised energy generation: Remove barriers to community participation in the micro-generation of energy
  • Transport: support the transition to electric vehicles and the build out the infrastructure required for wholesale adoption
  • Woodlands: Increase forestry cover in Ireland and realise economic, climate and biodiversity benefits.
  • Waste management: Support the growth of the circular economy in Ireland, helping to re-use resources and reduce emissions.

The next big milestone for business in Ireland is the Government’s intention to pass a rolling 5-year carbon budget (up to 2050) and a sectoral emissions ceiling in the Oireachtas (Houses of Parliament) in the coming months. A sectoral emissions ceiling is the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are permitted in a sector of the economy during each 5-year carbon budget.

It will not be an easy task and the Government hopes that the outcome of COP26 will act as the lynchpin that drives its agenda forward.

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