Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Regulations 2021

Jurisdiction: Republic of Ireland

Commencement: 15th October 2021


  • Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015

Mini Summary

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 provides details on approval plans made by the Government in relation to climate change for the purpose of pursuing the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy. This Act establishes a body to be known as the Climate Change Advisory Council.

This Act will not affect existing or future obligations of the State under the law of the European Union (including Directive 2001/42/EC, Council Directive 92/43/EEC, Directive 2003/87/EC and Decision No. 406/2009/EC), existing or future obligations of the State under any international agreement, any Act or instrument that gives effect to any such obligation or existing or future entitlements of the State or any person under the said law, agreement, Act or instrument.


The National climate objective

In order for the Republic of Ireland to meet plans set out 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, The National climate objective is put in place.
The National climate objective is the commitment of the state to reduce the extent of further global warming, pursue and achieve, the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy.

In order to achieve the National climate objective, the Minister will submit documentation to the Government relating to:

  • carbon budgets;
  • a sectoral emissions ceiling;
  • a climate action plan;
  • a national long term climate action strategy; and
  • a national adaptation framework.

Climate action plan and national long term climate action strategy

In order to achieve the National climate objective, the Minister will prepare:
1. A Climate Action Plan – an annual update to the Climate Action Plan 2019 to Tackle Climate Breakdown, which will;

  • be consistent with the carbon budget programme; and
  • set out a roadmap of actions (including sector specific actions to comply with the carbon budget and sectoral emissions ceiling and sector specific actions to deal with any failings or suspected failings of targets).

2. A National Long Term Climate Action Strategy (no less than once every 5 years).
The national long term climate action strategy shall specify how it will achieve the national climate objective and shall include:

  • projected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, for a minimum period of 30 years;
  • projected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in each of the relevant sectors determined by the Government and the enhancement of removals in such sectors, for a minimum period of 30 years; and
  • an assessment of potential opportunities for achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

When preparing the national long term climate action strategy the Minister shall ensure that the strategy is consistent with the carbon budget programme.

National climate change adaptation framework
The Minister shall, not later than 24 months after the passing of this Act, make, and submit to the Government for approval, a plan, which shall be known as a national climate change adaptation framework (‘national adaptation framework’).

A national adaptation framework shall:

  • specify the national strategy for the application of adaptation measures in different sectors and by a local authority in its administrative area in order to:
    • reduce the vulnerability of the State to the negative effects of climate change, and
    • avail of positive effects of climate change that may occur; and
  • take into account any existing obligation of the State under the law of the European Union or any international agreement, referred to in section 2.

This Act provides details of the process of finalising a national adaptation framework.

Sectoral adaptation plan

The Government shall request such Ministers of the Government as they consider appropriate to submit to the Government, within a specified period, a sectoral adaptation plan to be made by each requested Minister of the Government in relation to a matter for which they have responsibility.

A sectoral adaptation plan shall specify the adaptation policy measures the Minister of the Government concerned, having regard to the approved national adaptation framework, proposes to adopt for the purposes of:

  • enabling adaptation to the effects of climate change to be achieved in relation to the matter to which the sectoral adaptation plan relates, and
  • enabling the achievement of the national transition objective.

This Act details the process for finalising a sectoral adaptation plan.

Carbon budgets

Regulations 6A (Preparation of carbon budgets), and 6B (Approval of carbon budget) lay out who and how the carbon budget should be proposed and approved.
A carbon budget, consistent with furthering the achievement of the national climate objective, shall be proposed by the Advisory Council, finalised by the Minister and approved by the Government for the period of five years, commencing on 1st January 2021 and ending on 31st December 2025 and for each subsequent period of five years. Any revisions to the carbon budget will require specific requirements to be met outlined in regulation 6D.

Sectoral emissions ceiling

Regulation 6C sets out who and how the Sectoral emissions ceiling is to be proposed and approved. The Minister shall prepare, within the limits of the carbon budget, the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are permitted in different sectors of the economy during a budget period (sectoral emissions ceiling) and different ceilings may apply to different sectors.
The sectors of the economy to which each sectoral emissions’ ceiling shall apply are determined by the Government.

Climate Change Advisory Council 

Regulations 8 to 13 establish a Climate Change Advisory Council. They include details on the membership of the Advisory Council, disclosure of interests, general functions and details periodic and annual reviews.  The general function of the Advisory Council will be to advice and make recommendations to the Minister and the government regarding a national mitigation plan, a national adaptation framework and a sectoral adaptation plan. They will also advise and make recommendations to a Minister of the Government in relation to a sectoral adaption plan.

Climate reporting

The Minister each year shall report on the following climate matters:

  • progress under the most recent approved climate action plan;
  • whether there has been a reduction or increase in greenhouse gas emissions;
  • compliance with the carbon budget; and
  • the implementation of adaptation policy measures.

They must do this in line with the requirements in Regulation 14A.

Role of local authority

Each local authority shall prepare and make a plan relating to a period of five years ‘local authority climate action plan’, which shall specify the mitigation measures and the adaptation measures to be adopted by the local authority to reduce environmental impact, inline with the specific requirements in Regulation 14B.

Regulation 15 details the duties of certain bodies.


These Regulations specify that the carbon budgets, referred to in the Duties section above, (commencing on 1st January 2021 and ending on 31st December 2025, and future budgets thereafter), must take into account emissions from the greenhouse gases specified in the CRF*.

*The CRF is the common reporting format tables provided annually by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the United Nations under UN reporting guidelines. The CRF are amended by the EPA and published on the EPA website.

The way in which emissions should be calculated and accounted for, is specified in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reporting guidelines on annual inventories for Parties.

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