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A Hopeful Climate Action Plan 2023

The Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23) was launched on 21st December 2022 and is the second annual update to Ireland’s Climate Action 2019. This Plan is the first of its kind to be prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. CAP23 sets carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings. It also sets out the roadmap for taking action to halve Ireland’s emissions by 2030 and reach net zero no later than 2050. The Plan sets out how Ireland can accelerate the actions required to respond to the climate crisis, putting climate solutions at the centre of Ireland’s social and economic development.

The Plan acknowledges that Ireland is making steady progress towards its climate goals but states that more progress needs to be made in order to reach our climate targets.

However, global emissions have continued to increase, and this trend is also prevalent in Ireland. The scale of change required to reduce emissions is unprecedented. Key economic sectors like industry have a major role to play in the adaptation required to adequately respond to the climate crisis.

The Plan has identified six areas where emissions reductions are urgently required in order to meet climate goals. These ‘Six Vital High Impact Sectors’ and their relevant targets are detailed below:

Powering Renewables

CAP23 targets a 75% reduction in emissions for the power sector by 2030. The achievement of this target is dependent on the facilitation of a large-scale deployment of renewables that will be critical to the decarbonisation of the power sector while also enabling the electrification of other technologies.

The following areas of focus have been identified for the power sector as part of the Climate Action Plan 2023:

• Accelerate the delivery of onshore & offshore wind projects as well as solar projects;

• Phase out and ultimately end the use of coal and peat for the generation of electricity;

• The development of a dynamic ‘Green Electricity Tariff’ by 2025 in order to incentivise the use of lower cost renewable electricity at times of high wind and solar generation;

• Install up to 9 GW of onshore wind, 8 GW solar, and at least 7 GW offshore wind by 2030 (with 2 GW earmarked for green hydrogen production);

• Support at least 500 MW of local community-based renewable energy projects and increased levels of new micro-generation and small-scale generation.

Building Better

CAP23 sets out the objective of a 45% reduction in emissions from commercial and public buildings with a 40% reduction in emissions from residential buildings by 2030.

The following areas of focus have been identified for the building sector as part of the Climate Action Plan 2023:

• Accelerate the retrofitting programme for 120,000 dwellings to BER B2 by 2025, with an increase further to 500,000 dwellings by 2030;

• Install heat pumps into 45,000 existing and 170,000 new dwellings by 2025, with these figures increasing to 400,000 and 280,000 respectively by 2030;

• Generation of up to 0.8 TWh of district heating by 2025 and up to 2.5 TWh by 2030.

Transforming How We Travel

The Plan targets a 50% reduction in emissions from the transport sector by 2030. At Government level, policies to reduce transport emissions will be implemented to improve both urban and rural planning. This will be done by adopting an Avoid-Shift-Improve approach (i.e., reducing or avoiding the need to travel, shifting to public transport, walking and cycling and improving the energy efficiency of vehicles.)

The Plan has identified the following key areas for the reduction of emissions in the transport sector:

• Change how the country’s road space is used;

• Reduce the total distance of car journeys by 20%;

• Walking, cycling and public transport to account for 50% of journeys;

• 33% of all private cars to be electrical vehicles;

• Improve/increase walking and cycling routes;

• 70 % of people residing in rural areas will have access to public transport that will provide at least 3 trips per day to nearby urban centres by 2030.

Making Family Farms More Sustainable

It is an objective of CAP23 to reduce emissions from agricultural activities by 25% by 2030. There will be support provided to farmers to continue to produce world class, safe and nutritious food while also seeking to diversify income through tillage, energy generation and forestry.

The following key areas have been identified to achieve the emission reduction targets set out for the agricultural sector:

• Significantly reduce the use of chemical nitrogen as a fertiliser;

• Increase the uptake of protected urea on grassland farms to 90-100%;

• Increase organic farming to up to 450,000 hectares and the area of tillage to up to 400,000 hectares;

• Expansion of the indigenous biomethane sector through anaerobic digestion, reaching up to 5.7 TWh of biomethane;

• Contribute to the delivery of the land use targets for afforestation and reduced management intensity of organic soils.

Greening Business & Enterprise

CAP23 sets out the objective of a 35% reduction in emissions in the industrial and commercial sector. The Plan proposes to continue the changes to how the country produces, consumes, and designs goods and services. This is done by separating what has been a strong link between fossil fuels and economic development. The decarbonisation of industry and enterprise is integral to Ireland’s economy and future competitiveness.

The following key areas have been identified for the reduction of emissions in the industrial, commercial and enterprise sector:

• Decrease embodied carbon in construction materials produced and used in Ireland by at least 30%;

• Reduce the use of fossil fuels from 64% of final consumption in 2021 to 45% by 2025 and even more by 2030;

• Increase the total share of heating to carbon neutral to between 50% and 55% by 2025 with further increases to between 70% and 75% by 2030;

• Provide for the significant growth of the circular economy and bioeconomy.

Changing our Land Use

While land use is very important in reducing emissions, the exact reduction target for this sector is yet to be determined. Changing land use will be a phased process. First, it is necessary to evaluate how land is currently used in Ireland. From there, it is possible to map the most effective way to capture and store carbon as well as producing more sustainable food and energy.

In order to facilitate the adaptation of Ireland’s land use to improve carbon sequestration and the management of soils and vegetation, the following actions will be implemented as part of the Climate Action Plan 2023:

• Increase annual afforestation rates to 8,000 hectares per annum from 2023 onwards;

• Rethinking Ireland’s Forestry Programme and Vision. Promote forest management initiatives in both public and private forests to increase carbon sinks and stores;

• Improve carbon sequestration of 450,000 hectares of grasslands on mineral soils and reduce the management intensity of grasslands on 80,000 hectares of drained organic soils;

• Rehabilitation of 77,600 hectares of peatlands.


The Climate Action Plan 2023 seeks to reaffirm the global belief that rapid change and adaptation is required for the effective management of the impacts and risks of climate change.

The Plan sets out the roadmap to deliver on Ireland’s climate ambition. It has been designed to align with the legally binding economy-wide carbon budgets and sectoral ceilings that were agreed by the Government in July 2022. It is hoped that this will enable Ireland to meet 2030 targets and to be in a good position to meet the 2050 decarbonisation objectives.

July 2023