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Advice report: The path to a Net Zero Northern Ireland

1. Outline

This report provides advice to Northern Ireland on its 2030 and 2040 interim targets and first three Carbon Budgets. The advised targets and Carbon Budgets are consistent with the decarbonisation required for Northern Ireland to meet its legislated 2050 Net Zero target. While this Net Zero target goes significantly beyond the Committee’s advice, the report outlines options of how it may be achieved. 

2. Key messages

  • The CCC’s Balanced Pathway has been updated for this report. This is an ambitious pathway, that reaches an 83% reduction in Northern Ireland’s emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2050. Residual emissions are predominantly in the agriculture sector. 
  • We have developed a ‘Stretch Ambition’ pathway that reaches a 93% reduction by 2050 by increasing ambition in afforestation and including engineered removals from biomass and anaerobic digestion with carbon capture and storage. 
  • Even with these radical actions Northern Ireland does not reach Net Zero in 2050. We have therefore considered some speculative options including deployment of direct air capture of CO2 and a further significant decrease of livestock numbers. It is up to Northern Ireland to decide which combination of speculative options to pursue. 
  • Using the speculative option based on direct air capture, we conclude that targets consistent with the legislated Net Zero target are: 
    • the First, Second and Third Carbon Budgets to be set at levels that have average annual reductions of 33%, 48% and 62%, on 1990 levels, respectively; and   
    • the 2030 and 2040 interim targets to be set at reductions of 48% and 77% on 1990 levels, respectively.