The Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23) is the second update to Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019 and the first to be prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 and following the introduction of the 2022 Sectoral Emission Ceilings (SEC) and economy wide carbon budgets.
CAP23 is structured to identify key measures in each sector of the economy. Targets/KPIs are given for 2025 and 2030, as well as 2031-2035. Achieving these goals will require no less than a national transformation in how we work, travel, heat our homes, source our energy and use our land.
To achieve the targets set out in CAP23, considerable investment is needed to reach emission reduction goals – the National Development Plan sets out a public investment total of €165 billion over the period 2021 to 2030.
The Action Plan highlights six vital high-impact sectors, each with an associated emissions reduction target to assist Ireland in achieving its 2030 and 2050 climate goals.
- Powering renewables – 75% by 2030
- Building better – 45% reductions in the commercial sector and 40% in the residential sector by 2030
- Transforming how we travel – 50% by 2030
- Making Ffamily farms more sustainable – 25% by 2030
- Greening business and enterprise – 35% by 2030
- Changing our land use –yet to be determined
CAP23 lays out a plan to increase the proportion of renewable electricity to up to 80% by 2030 with targets of 9GW from onshore wind, 8GW from solar and at least 5GW of offshore energy by 2030. There will also be the support of a minimum of 500MW at a local community level for renewable energy projects.
Irish land use and agriculture
Under CAP23, there will be marked changes in how Irish land is fertilised, including improvement in the efficiency of animals and an expansion of the organic sector to provide more options to livestock farmers. The Irish farming industry is vital to Ireland, and CAP23 aims to support farmers and continue to enable the production of world-class nutritious food while also diversifying income through tillage, energy generation and forestry.
There is still considerable uncertainty in the LULUCF (Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry) sector regarding underlying data and emission factors. However, this does not mean measures towards more sustainable land use cannot be taken. To achieve accelerated emissions reduction, CAP23 lays out several actions regarding afforestation rates, management of carbon sequestration of grasslands, rehabilitation of peatland and the promotion of forest management initiatives in public and private forests. These targets will increase further in the second budget period.
An Avoid-Shift-Improve approach has been taken regarding transport: reducing or avoiding the need for travel, shifting to public transport, walking, and cycling, and improving the energy efficiency of vehicles. ‘Avoid’ targets include a 20% reduction in total vehicle kilometres travelled and a 50% reduction in fuel usage. ‘Shift’ targets include a 50% increase in daily active travel journeys and a 130% increase in daily public transport journeys. ‘Improve’ targets include targets for low emissions public and private vehicles.
The actions to deliver on Irish ambition will be supported by a robust governance structure that now includes Ireland’s first carbon budget programme and SEC. The Climate Action Delivery Board will have an enhanced role in relation to delivery, while task forces will be established to focus on key specific areas or initiatives of climate delivery that require gross-government collaboration.
CAP23 reiterates Ireland’s international commitments to achieving international goals, such as the commitment to providing €225 million in climate finance to developing countries by 2025 with a focus on the prerogative of leaving no one behind.