Climate Action (Ireland)

On 17 June 2019, the Irish Government published the Climate Action Plan 2019 (CAP), which commits to bring forward a new Climate Action (Amendment) Bill for publication in Q1 2020.

The Climate Action Plan 2019 is here.

The new Bill will amend the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and provide for a strengthened statutory framework for continual long-term planning. In due course this legislation will be added to subscribers’ Ireland EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists.

On 19 December 2019, the Irish Government approved the publication of the General Scheme for the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 (essentially the Heads of Terms of the new Bill).

The General Scheme for the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 is here.

The Bill aims to enshrine in law the approach outlined in the Climate Action Plan, including:

* Establishing a 2050 emissions reduction target in law (the Government has already backed the adoption of a net-zero target at EU level and says that it will continue to support this level of ambition going forward).

* Making the adoption of 5-year carbon budgets a legal requirement, starting in 2021, the Minister would bring these to the Oireachtas (Legislature) for scrutiny, if rejected they would be revised.

* Strengthening the role of the Climate Action Council in recommending the appropriate climate budget and policies, as well as requiring decarbonisation targets across all sectors, including transport, agriculture, housing and energy. The Council will replace the existing Climate Change Advisory Council that has been widely viewed as under-resourced and too heavily stocked with economists. The proposed Bill would see the Director of Met Éireann join the Council and a limit of two terms for the chairperson.

* Requiring the Government to set a decarbonisation target range for each sector. The Minister with primary responsibility for each sector will be accountable for delivering the relevant actions to meet the sectoral target and for reporting annually on the delivery of their actions and the achievement of sectoral emission targets.

* Giving the Oireachtas a central role in the setting of the carbon budget and overseeing progress to delivery (see above).

* Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030, the Bill also seeks to stop the granting of NCTs for such vehicles from 2045.

* Establishing that the Climate Action Plan shall be updated annually, with actions in every sector.

EU Law in UK 2020 (UK Brexit)

UPDATE (24th Jan) : UK Policy is NOT to implement beyond the Implementation period completion day

Exit day is 31st January (end of this month)

Implementation period completion day is 31st December (this is the end of the transition period)

The Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the UK and the EU in November 2019 will be ratified in the UK and the EU imminently. This will bring about an ordered UK exit from the EU, and initiate a Transition Period.

The Transition Period will operate for 2020. During the Transition Period EU law enacted and in force by 31st December 2020 will be implemented in the UK, even if it has implementation deadlines after 31st December.

UPDATE (24th Jan) : For our purposes, this means the 2018 EU Circular Waste Economy Package will be implemented in the UK. The 2019 EU Single-Use Plastics Directive would not be implemented.

In addition, EU laws already implemented in the UK but with long tail deadlines for e.g. product bans (e.g. menthol cigarettes) that apply after Exit day or after Implementation period completion day, will still apply in the UK.

The envisaged purpose of the Transition Period is for the UK and the EU to agree alternative arrangements for trade in goods, primarily, that will subsist from 1st January 2021.

For our purposes, this means the new UK chemicals regime, the new UK medicines regime, the new UK equipment label (UKCA Mark), and UK issued certificates of all kinds, will need to be in place by end of 2020. Expect unilateral arrangements for EU goods and chemicals etc circulation in the UK for a limited period after 31st December 2020. I Blog posted a few days ago about hops and the later date available for circulation of EU hops in the UK.

There could also be unilateral arrangements on the EU side for limited time-length goods circulation in the EU.

A key issue is acceptance on both sides of certificates issued, and the matter of double testing for chemicals, medicines etc.

Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy (Ireland)

Ireland’s Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is seeking views on the development of a new Waste Action Plan for Ireland as part of the move to a more Circular Economy where resources are kept in use for as long as possible and then recycled or reused at the end of their service life. 

This consultation will enable Ireland  develop a new waste policy / circular economy plan to meet the emerging challenges and build on the targets set out in the Climate Action Plan (separate Blog post on the Climate Action Plan, issued shortly). The completed policy will also match the level of ambition in the Waste and Climate areas being shown across the EU.

The Public Consultation will close at 5pm on Friday 21st February 2020

The consultation document is here

Please see the related consultation documents here

Circular Economy Waste Package (Ireland)

The Circular Economy Waste Package is a collection of directives from the EU which have to be translated into EU member state law:

* Directive (EU) 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste

* Directive (EU) 2018/850 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste

* Directive (EU) 2018/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste

* Directive (EU) 2018/849 of 30 May 2018 amending Directives 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment

These directives, which will amend the existing legislation of EU member states, increase current waste-management targets while introducing some new ones. They strengthen requirements around waste prevention, extend producer responsibility, and streamline definitions, while reporting on obligations and calculation methods for targets.

I blog posted about these amendments a while back. The consolidated EU Directives are supplied in Cardinal EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists (paid subscribers will have access to, as tailored).

EU Member States, including Ireland, are required to transpose these four directives into national law by 5 July 2020.

On 30th December 2019, the Irish Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment announced it is seeking views on this transposition process through a public consultation.

Along with the four directives mentioned above, the Single Use Plastic Directive (EU 2019/904) (SUP Directive) is also going to be transposed into national law, by 5 July 2021. This directive contains enhanced provisions to those contained in the Circular Economy Waste Package. I blog posted about this Directive as well, and it will be added to paid subscribers Registers & Checklists systems.

Given the links between the directives, Ireland is also seeking views on the transposition of the SUP Directive.

The deadline for consultation is 5pm, Friday 21, February, 2020.

The consultation document is – here.

Export-Import (Hops) (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January (end of this month)

Transition Period end date is 31st December (end of this year)

Instructions for trading with the EU (hops and hop products, an agricultural product) after Exit day are set out here. Note these set out in No Deal scenario format – I have adjusted below.

I am posting this Blog because it illustrates the UK approach for trade with the EU in those agricultural products, post Brexit, for which the EU has marketing standards.

Pre-Brexit

Hops marketed in the EU must meet rules on marketing standards. This includes hops extracts, hop cones and ground, pellets or powdered hops cones.

To show that they meet these standards, imports to the UK:

• from non-EU (third) countries, must have an Attestation of Equivalence

• from the EU, must have an EU hops certificate

The UK inspection agency is the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) – this agency inspects at least 5% of hops imports from each non-EU country. The UK does not currently inspect imports of hops from the EU.

Hops produced in the UK are issued with EU hops certificates from hops certification centres. With some exceptions, the certificates are needed for:

• marketing hops in the EU (including the UK)

• exporting hops

Post-Brexit

UK certification centres will still issue hops certificates for hops produced in the UK.

UK hops certification centres must remove all EU branding (including references to the EU and the EU emblem) from certificates from Exit day (or from the end of the Transition Period). The form of the certificate and the process for getting a certificate will not change.

Hops imported into the UK (after Exit day or after the end of the Transition Period) must be accompanied by one of the following as evidence that they meet UK marketing standards:

• the new UK Attestation of Equivalence issued by an authorised third country agency

• EU Attestation of Equivalence issued by an authorised third country agency (can be used until 31 October 2021)

• EU certificate for hops imported from the EU (can be used until 31 October 2021) – this must comply with EU rules and can be issued by a body authorised by an EU member state

After 31 October 2021, all hop imports from the EU and other third countries must be accompanied by a new UK Attestation of Equivalence. This must be issued by an authorised third country agency. A list of these agencies will be published on GOV.UK following EU exit. Agencies currently registered with the EU will be registered with the UK when the UK leaves the EU.

The UK may stop accepting EU Attestations of Equivalence and EU certificates before 31 October 2021 if EU marketing standards for hops do not meet UK standards.

The EU only accepts imports of hops accompanied by an EU Attestation of Equivalence, issued by an authorised agency in the exporting third country.

The UK government intends to apply to the EU to list RPA as the UK agency authorised to issue Attestations of Equivalence. RPA will not be able to issue Attestations of Equivalence until the listing with the EU is complete.

Further details will be published when they are available. However, an exporter must first enrol with RPA to export hops after Brexit.

Other details are set out in the instructions.

New Rules from the Trade Deal

The instructions are currently silent on new rules from the Trade Deal.

Ships Fuel Oil Sulphur (International)

From 1 January 2020, the limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas is reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass), down from 3.50% m/m (a limit that was in effect since 1st January 2012).

The rules governing this are the regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships (Annex VI) under the international MARPOL Convention. Annex VI seeks to control airborne emissions from ships (sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone depleting substances (ODS), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and shipboard incineration) and their contribution to local and global air pollution, human health issues and environmental problems.

The date of 1 January 2020 was set in the regulations adopted in 2008. However, a provision was adopted, requiring IMO to review the availability of low sulphur fuel oil for use by ships, to help Member States determine whether the new lower global limit on sulphur emissions from international shipping shall come into effect on 1 January 2020 or be deferred until 1 January 2025. IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 70), in October 2016, decided that the 0.50% limit should apply from 1 January 2020.

Further information is found in this useful IMO Q&A – here.

Drinking Water Directive (EU)

Provisional agreement on revision of the EU Drinking Water Directive was reached on 19th December.

The proposal updates to the latest changes to WHO safety standards.

Further details are here.

UK – if the revised EU Directive is published before 31st December, which it is likely to be, then it will apply in the UK (but local law would have to be updated).