Climate action at the forefront of the government’s NDP

There are no big new innovative transformation projects in the new National Development Plan.

But it is not true to say that there are no big changes.

There are.

It’s just that you have to be a bit of a “political madman” to fully appreciate and recognize the long shadow that this national development plan will cast.

What makes this one different is not a new building, or an infrastructure project, or anything physical.

It is a change in the rules on public spending decisions that will truly put climate action at the heart of all public investment decisions in the future.

There is something that not many people know about called “the public expenditure code”.

It is a tool used by policy makers in government when deciding which capital projects should public money be spent on.

The “Code” requires that the cost of the measures necessary to offset any greenhouse gas emissions linked to the new infrastructure be calculated and taken into account.

This means that developments associated with higher greenhouse gas emissions will prove to be less profitable. This would make them less likely to be approved.

Two years ago, the reference cost of carbon applied by the “Public Expenditure Code” was tripled in the Climate Action Plan aimed at reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.

However, this new National Development Plan is absolutely clear that this carbon reference price must still be sharply increased.

The reason, he says, is that it has now become law that Ireland’s emissions must be reduced, not by 30% by 2030, but by 51% by that date.

The plan specifically states that “as a first step, the priority will be to significantly increase the cost associated with any release of additional greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

It will have a big impact.

This will strongly influence the roads or other infrastructure projects that will eventually be built.

And that’s not all.

The national development plan specifies that an even tougher position will be adopted.

He says, for example, that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with any new road investment will not only be the emissions attributable to the construction work and materials used in the construction of the project.

An assessment of the emissions that will be caused by the future use of this road, including the traffic it causes, should be included.

Now that could be a game-changer.

During the launch of the National Development Plan, Eamon Ryan, Minister of Environment, Climate Action and Communications was asked why all road projects in the National Development Plan 2018 are still included if the new National Development Plan 2021 commits to spending twice as much. on public transport as well as on the roads.

His answer seemed to pose a bit of a conundrum.

He said road projects are going to have to compete for funding and not all will succeed.

The modification of the public expenditure code described in the plan is surely the key to this conundrum.

Its impact is likely to be very significant for years to come.

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