Minister Ryan launches guidelines for Local Authority Climate Action Plans

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has launched a set of statutory guidelines to assist local authorities in preparing local authority climate action plans.


Under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, each local authority is required to prepare a local authority climate action plan for its respective administrative area. Once adopted by the local councils, each plan will be valid for five years and is subject to update at least every five years. The plans will be developed over the next 12 months.


Local authorities are key drivers in advancing climate policy at the local level. The local authority climate action plans will help local authorities to address, in an integrated way, the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change adaptation and strengthen the alignment between national climate policy and the delivery of effective local climate action.


Each plan will:

  • provide a strong emphasis on a place-based approach to climate action, delivering a better understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related risks at a local level;
  • address context-specific conditions and support locally-tailored policy making;
  • deliver evidence-based and integrated climate action through adaptation and mitigation measures, centred around a strong understanding of the role of the local authority in climate action;
  • provide strategic direction at local and community levels on the delivery of the national climate objective.


Local engagement and collaboration will play a vital role in the drafting of successful plans, ensuring stakeholders are involved in climate decisions that affect them.


Commenting on the guidelines, Minister Ryan said:

“This is a new chapter for our climate ambitions and for local authorities, where for the first time, they will create a specific climate action plan for their city or county, reflecting national climate objectives but making them real at a local level. Over the past year I have visited 12 local authorities and aim to visit the remainder this year. In my visits, I have been given an insight in the progressive thinking at local level on areas like energy, housing and transport, and the work that is already well underway to ensure a more sustainable future for people across the country. My Department looks forward to working with the local authorities and the County and City Management Association on pulling this work together into local climate action plans over the next year.”


John McLoughlin, a representative from the County and City Management Association (CCMA), said:

“The local authorities are pleased to begin the development of their individual climate action plans. The plans will provide an opportunity to build on the extensive work that has already been achieved by the sector in the areas of climate adaptation and mitigation, in consultation and collaboration with our elected members and communities. As leaders for climate action, we will continue to support the Government in meeting the national climate objectives and look forward to contributing to a sustainable future for all.”



The Local Authority Climate Action Plans


Section 16 of the Climate Action (Amendment) Act 2021 provides for the addition of Section 14B (1) of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 which sets out the provisions governing the establishment and operation of a local authority climate action plan.


Each plan will drive the adaptation and mitigation measures required at local level, and define a clear pathway for each local authority to:

  • actively translate national climate policy to local circumstances with the prioritisation and acceleration of evidence-based measures;
  • assist in the delivery of the climate neutrality objective at local and community levels;
  • identify and deliver a Decarbonising Zone (DZ) within the local authority area to act as a test bed for a range of climate mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity measures in a specifically defined area through the identification of projects and outcomes that will assist in the delivery of the National Climate Objective.


As part of the process, each local authority will carry out a stocktaking of its emissions levels through a Baseline Emissions Inventory. Each plan will also include a climate change risk assessment to understand climate change impacts and raise awareness at the local level.


The Guidelines


Local authority climate action plans are given statutory authority through the provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. The guidelines are issued under the provisions of the Amendment Act and are therefore statutory in nature. They are intended to provide robust guidance to local authorities in preparing their plans and to ensure a coherent and consistent approach.


The guidelines have been developed specifically with the knowledge that each local authority is coming from differing starting points on climate action planning. The guidelines are premised to encourage greater ambition on climate action, to build consistently and progressively over time. They can be found on:


Climate Action Regional Offices


There are four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) situated within four local authorities which provide for a coordinated regional approach on climate action across the local government system, with input from the County and City Management Association (CCMA).  These offices were established to coordinate and oversee the delivery of the Local Authority Sectoral Adaptation Strategies under the National Adaptation Framework in 2018 to support the local government sector. Following their establishment, funding of €10 million over a five-year period was announced.


The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has a Service Level Agreement with the four lead local authorities to host the regional offices and deliver an annual work programme. The CAROs also provide climate action training for local authority staff and elected members, in partnership with the Local Authority Services National Training Group.


Read more about the Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) at:


The County and City Management Association (CCMA)


The County and City Management Association (CCMA) is the ‘representative voice’ of the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and is made up of chief executives of the county and city councils and the assistant chief executives of Dublin City Council. It operates through a number of established committees, each concerned with a specific policy area, including, among others the ‘Climate Action, Transport, Circular Economy, and Networks Committee’.


The CCMA works in partnership with departments and agencies to develop and implement effective, streamlined legislation. As representatives of management of local authorities, the CCMA are key stakeholders in the areas of planning, the provision of infrastructure, housing, environment and sanitary services as well as recreational, social inclusion and cultural and tourism services and as such are consulted with by a broad spectrum of organisations.


Read more about the CCMA at:


Climate Action Plan 2023


The Climate Action Plan 2023, launched in December 2022, is the second annual update of its kind and the first to be prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. It also follows on from the introduction, in 2022, of economy-wide carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings.

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