Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015
The Act is Ireland's first framework piece of climate change legislation and lays the ground for transition towards a low carbon economy, to be achieved through a combination of the following:
- a national greenhouse gas mitigation plan
- a national adaptation framework
- specific sectoral adaptation plans
- The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government is responsible for producing and submitting for government approval both the national mitigation plan and the national adaptation framework, to be reviewed every 5 years; the first mitigation plan must be submitted not later than 10 June 2017, and the first adaptation framework must be submitted not later than 10 December 2017 (Articles 3 - 5).
- Appropriate ministries will be requested to formulate and submit sectoral adaptation plans.
- When formulating the national adaptation framework and sectoral plans, the government is required to take account of a number of factors, including: promoting sustainable development; achieving the objectives of a national adaptation framework at the least cost to the national economy; any recommendations or advice of the Expert Advisory Council.
- The establishment of an independent Climate Change Advisory Council on climate change. The heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Teagasc and the Economic and Social Research Institute are to be ex officio members of the Advisory Council. The Council is tasked with conducting an annual review of the progress made in achieving planned GHG emissions reductions, and furthering transition to a "low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy" (Article 8).
- The Minister of the Environment must produce annual statements on national transition, sectoral mitigation transition, and sectoral adaptation transition (Article 14).
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act of 2021 amended the original 2015 Act. This amendment provides for the approval of plans by the Government in relation to climate change for the purpose of pursuing the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich and climate neutral economy by no later than the end of the year 2050 and to thereby promote climate justice; makes certain changes to the Climate Change Advisory Council; provides for carbon budgets and a sectoral emissions ceiling to apply to different sectors of the economy; provides for reporting by Ministers of the Government to a joint committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas; provides that local authorities shall, when making development plans, take account of their climate action plans and, for that purpose to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000; extends the purposes for which moneys may be paid out of the Climate Action Fund and, for that purpose to amend the National Oil Reserves Agency Act 2007. The 2021 amendment notably contains provisions to give the government statutory effect to end extraction and exploration of gas, as was already the case for oil since 2019. The 2021 amendment also incorporates the principles of climate justice and a just transition.
The first two carbon budgets proposed by the Advisory Council shall provide for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions such that the total amount of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the year ending on 31 December 2030 is 51 per cent less than the annual greenhouse gas emissions reported for the year ending on 31 December 2018, as set out in the national greenhouse gas emissions inventory prepared by the Agency
Related litigation cases
An advocacy group, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), filed suit in the High Court, arguing that the Irish government’s approval of the National Mitigation Plan in 2017 violated Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 ("the Act"), the Constitution of Ireland, and obligat...
In April 2020, the Irish High Court dismissed a challenge to Ireland's National Planning Framework (NPF). The plaintiff Friends of the Irish Environment had argued, among other things, that the Government failed to properly analyze the NPF's impact on climate change. In February 2018 the Governme...
Friends of the Irish Environment challenged the Fingal County Council’s decision to issue a five-year extension to the Dublin Airport Authority for their planning permission to construct a new runway. The court declined to grant any of the relief sought by plaintiffs because they failed to assert...