EAI welcomes the opportunity to respond to the call for expert evidence on Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021. Ireland is facing significant environmental challenges, such as decarbonising the economy, preserving and restoring biodiversity, and providing clean air and water to its citizens. Climate change mitigation is crucial to preserve and improve the natural and physical environment in Ireland and increase the standard of living, not only for its current citizens, but also for future generations.
Under the Climate Bill legislation, recently approved by the Government, the framework for Ireland to meet its international and EU climate commitments has now been outlined. We welcome Ireland’s ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and the commitment for 2030 to reduce emissions by 51% compared to 2018 levels. While it is positive that GHG emissions in Ireland have fallen in recent years, e.g., by 4% and 6% in 2019 and 2020 respectively, it is notable that this level of reduction falls short of the level needed to meet the commitments for 2030. The 2021 Climate Action Plan provides an opportunity for Ireland to take a leadership position in the protection of the environment and the decarbonisation of society.
There is now an urgent need to address the current policy gaps and outline a clear trajectory for energy and environmental policy in the coming decade, with a stronger emphasis on climate action across the economy, to reduce the burden of decarbonisation post-2030.
A decarbonised All-Island electricity system is key to achieving climate ambition on the island of Ireland. This goal can only be fully realised with actions that increase the capability of the grid to absorb the greatest amount of renewable generation. Grid infrastructure and development needs to keep pace with policy ambition and renewables development.