The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, and his departmental colleagues Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD, have welcomed the publication of the Climate Action Plan 2021. The Department has committed to actions across diverse areas such as planning systems, wind energy, climate science, climate services, social housing retrofitting and peatlands restoration to deliver the Climate Action Plan for the years ahead.
Highlight actions include:
The actions in Housing for All, our new housing plan for Ireland have been developed to support the targets and objectives of the Climate Action Plan, setting out a pathway to economic, societal and environmental sustainability in the delivery of housing. Highlight actions include:
Wind energy and marine planning
Biodiversity and peatlands restoration
- Restore/rewet raised bog Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas as set out in the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022. Such restoration measures, and hydrological management of our protected peatlands, will halt and reduce peat oxidation and carbon loss
- The Department is supporting the Peatlands and People project, with a budget of €10 million, which aims to significantly reduce carbon emissions through restoration and other land management activities
Met Éireann and Climate Science
- As a Division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Met Éireann will continue to inform climate change policy by implementing a climate science programme to understand, analyse and model Ireland’s past, current and future climate and to support climate change impact planning and decision-making by developing and coordinating climate services. Such activities include developing state-of-the-art Earth system climate modelling, standardising national climate projections, leading Ireland’s Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), delivering more than 80 automated climate monitoring stations, building flood forecasting capability in support of the National Flood Forecasting Warning Service (NFFWS), developing climate maps for use in building design, supporting National Emergency Management during extreme weather events.
Speaking this afternoon, Minister O’Brien said:
“The Government’s Climate Action Plan 2021 demonstrates our commitment to meaningful action to address climate change. My Department has today committed to action across housing, planning, marine, weather and climate services, and natural heritage protection to help Ireland on its path to carbon neutrality by 2050. I particularly welcome the progress made to date in ensuring energy-efficient housing stock, through our social housing retrofitting programmes. Energy-efficiency in our building standards and improvements to our existing housing stock are crucial to our efforts to tackle climate change. Having just recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe for the High Performance Building Alliance I am particularly glad that Ireland will now be part of a UNECE Network of Centres of Excellence for High Performing Buildings, demonstrating our commitment to the highest standards of energy efficiency for Ireland’s buildings.
Meaningful action on climate change is informed by data and the translation of this data into the knowledge and tools needed for users to make decisions on climate impacts (so-called “climate services”). In this context, Met Éireann’s scientists are central to Ireland’s efforts to address climate change. By providing the intelligence and data on how our climate is changing, by developing and coordinating the provision of climate services, working with national and international partners, Met Éireann provides insights that can inform policy and actions taken right across Government, particularly as we plan for future extreme weather.”
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, spoke about the role of protecting our natural heritage in taking action against climate change.
“The climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are intrinsically linked: climate change causes biodiversity loss through droughts, floods, fires, changes in the distribution of species, the spread of pests, diseases and invasives, and ecological disruption in terms of the timing of the growing season, bud burst, fruit ripening, egg laying and hatching, and migration. Biodiversity loss also causes climate change: decades of wetland drainage for peat extraction and inappropriate afforestation have resulted in degraded bogs that actually emit carbon instead of store it. But while the problems are linked, so too are the solutions.
My Department continues to work with its partners across Government, State Agencies, Local Authorities, landowners, farmers and community groups to protect, enhance and restore habitats across Ireland, including our precious peatlands. This Government is also investing in nature to a level not seen since before the financial crisis, with a 64% increase in funding for the National Parks and Wildlife Service since 2020. Nature is our first and best line of defence against a changing climate and a vital ally in terms of climate mitigation. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to progress this Government’s unprecedented ambition for nature and the climate.”
Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD, spoke of the Department’s role in reforming the planning system as part of decarbonisation.
“The importance of Ireland’s planning system in addressing climate change is clear in today’s Climate Action Plan. In the area of maritime planning and the facilitation of offshore wind energy, the emerging plan-led system is providing a foundation for climate measures, such as meeting renewable energy targets through offshore renewable energy installation, and identifying ways that all activities in the maritime area can contribute to carbon reduction and adaptation measures
Many local authorities are in the process of reviewing their development plans and are focussed on integrating compact growth which, once completed, signifies a significant step-change in planning policy from national to regional and local. Climate change measures as well as renewable energy targets now also form a key consideration in development plans”.