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First Climate Action Plan 2021 Progress Report highlights impactful delivery across key sectors, but challenges remain

  • 73% of measures completed on schedule
  • Report emphasises need to overcome blockages to implementation

The first Progress Report on the Climate Action Plan 2021 was published by Government today, detailing progress made on 423 climate action measures due for delivery in Q4 2021 and Q1 2022.

It highlights climate action progress achieved in both quarters, while also emphasising the need to address barriers to implementation.

The challenging nature of climate action delivery remains evident, underscoring the difficult but necessary journey that Ireland has embarked upon by putting ambitious climate action targets into law through the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.

A completion rate of 73% is reported overall, comprising of a delivery rate of 84% on 232 Q4 2021 measures and 59% on 191 Q1 2022 measures. A number of the measures delivered have significant potential for emissions reduction or for increasing Ireland’s resilience to climate change.

Commenting on progress, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:

“We must redouble our efforts to create a cleaner, more sustainable, and climate neutral Ireland, richer in biodiversity, for future generations. The Climate Action Plan is working towards that goal of more resilient and liveable villages, towns, coasts, countryside and cities. We must now further build up capacity to meet the challenges of climate action and close gaps on delivery across the system.”

Minister for the Environment, Climate, and Communications Eamon Ryan welcomed progress on the 2021 Plan:

“The actions achieved so far in the 2021 Climate Action Plan set us on the right path towards emissions reduction, but will also lead to a number of social and economic benefits for people across Ireland. This includes more secure energy supplies; better connected transport; warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes; lower energy bills; more sustainable food supplies; greater biodiversity protection; and new job opportunities and resilient incomes for rural and urban communities.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said:

“We need to take better care of our planet. This generation should aim to pass it on to the next in a better condition than we inherited it. We have made some progress but our focus over the next couple of years will need to be on implementation. Businesses will play an important role and after what has been a really challenging couple of years, we will help them to make the changes that are necessary, no matter what stage they are at. We want to put forward solutions that make sense for people and their livelihoods.”

The report is structured to highlight sectors with the highest climate impact, to enable better understanding of the measures that will contribute the most to our mitigation and adaptation targets.

The report also highlights a number of measures that were not delivered on schedule, though many are expected to be completed in Q2 2022. Key reasons given for their delay include administrative and capacity constraints; desires for alignment with other measures; technical complexity; stakeholder consultation and the pace of the legislative process.

The report underscores the need to overcome these delays in keeping with the urgency of emissions reduction efforts, legally binding carbon budgets and soon-to-be agreed Sectoral Emissions Ceilings that will set specific emissions limits on sectors. These new Ceilings, and accompanying actions, will be reflected in the Climate Action Plan 2023, due to be published later this year. The implementation challenges highlighted in this Progress Report provide valuable lessons in the development of the 2023 Climate Action Plan.

Read the full Progress Report here.


Notes to the Editor

Key measures and impacts delivered over the reporting period

Reducing emissions

  • Action 6a: Initial carbon budget programme for 2021- 2035 proposed, outlining the maximum amount of emissions that can be emitted across the economy to achieve emissions reduction targets
  • Action 104a: Indicative Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction calendar published, accelerating switch to renewables

Improving building energy efficiency

  • Action 211a: National Retrofit Scheme launched supporting home energy upgrades nationwide
  • Action 57b: Enhanced Public Sector Pathfinders capital programme to retrofit public buildings

Enabling better marine and land use

  • Action 120a: Maritime Area Planning Bill enacted, supporting sustainable offshore renewable energy development
  • Action 33a: Commenced works to restore 33,000 hectares of peatlands to act as carbon sinks across 81 bogs owned by Bord na Móna

Supporting farmers and forestry

  • Action 358b: Submitted draft Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan to the EU, detailing desired income supports and plans for farmers in Ireland to reduce emissions
  • Action 364a: Launched new not-for-profit company to attract private funds to plant more native woodlands

Improving public transport infrastructure

  • Action 239a: Phase 2 of BusConnects Dublin rolled out, enhancing the frequency and routes of local bus services

Supporting the most vulnerable

  • Action 66b: Carbon tax revenues allocated in Budget 2022
  • Action 18a: Targeted social welfare measures to prevent fuel poverty and support a Just Transition

Helping businesses play their part

  • Action 99a: Roadmap on Corporate Power Purchase Agreements published, enabling industries with high energy use to procure renewable electricity
  • Actions 166a and 130a: Climate Enterprise Action Fund delivered, and an online Climate Toolkit 4 Business launched, to support climate action in businesses

Key measures delayed in Q4 2021 and Q1 2022

  • Action 1a: Finalise Ireland’s long-term climate strategy
  • Action 37a: Publish second National Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development
  • Action 53b: Publish new Public Sector Decarbonisation Strategy for delivery
  • Action 78b: Provide that Local Authorities consider GHG emissions as part of the City/County Development Plan process
  • Action 105c: Publish the final High-Level Design for a Microgeneration Support Scheme
  • Action 107a: Introduce interim regulations amending solar panel planning exemptions
  • Action 172b: Determine if renewable energy obligation should be introduced in the heat sector
  • Action 197a: Develop a roadmap for greater use of lower-carbon building materials
  • Action 362a: Develop and roll-out a Training of Farm Advisors Programme to 400 public and private advisors in 2021
  • Action 276a: Review planning guidelines for EV charging infrastructure and issue guidance to Local Authorities
  • Action 366c: Increase participation of existing forestry schemes and measures
  • Action 428a: Enact the Circular Economy Bill 2021

Progress Reporting Process

  • Progress Reports on the Climate Action Plan 2021 are prepared by the Department of the Taoiseach, in collaboration with all Government Departments.
  • The Climate Action Plan 2021 was published in November 2021 and its accompanying Annex of Actions in December 2021. Due to the timing of publication, progress reporting was merged for Q4 2021 and Q1 2022, with the two quarters presented in this combined Report.
  • This is the tenth Progress Report published under successive iterations of the Climate Action Plan, with previous reports available here.
  • The changed format of progress reporting compared to previously published reports includes a greater focus on sectors, connections to emissions profiles and summaries of ‘high impact’ complete and delayed measures. ‘High impact’ includes direct emissions reduction potential in measures targeted at specific emitting sectors (e.g. transport, electricity, agriculture, etc.) as well as indirect emissions reduction potential in a range of supporting areas (e.g. education, Just Transition, citizen engagement etc.). Significant contributions to adaptation are also considered to be ‘high impact’ in this analysis.
  • Detail on all measures due for reporting is maintained through Appendix 1 to ensure continued implementation transparency.
  • Progress Reporting is overseen by the Climate Action Delivery Board and the Cabinet Committee on the Environment and Climate Change, and represents an important, centralised governance approach to maintain transparency and accountability for climate action delivery across Government.


Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act

  • The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act, signed in July 2021, established a legally binding framework with clear emissions reduction targets.
  • This includes a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030 (compared to 2018 levels) and to pursue and achieve no later than 2050, the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity-rich, environmentally-sustainable and climate-neutral economy.
  • The Act aims to ensure the necessary structures and processes are embedded on a statutory basis to achieve Ireland’s national, EU and international climate goals and obligations. The development of annual Climate Action Plans, and reporting on their progress, represents essential architecture for delivery and transparency.