Public sector taking a lead role in reaching Ireland’s climate targets

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, and Minister of State with special responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD have today welcomed Cabinet approval for the Public Sector Climate Action Mandate 2023, which will see the public sector taking a lead role in helping to achieve the country’s climate goals.


The Mandate sets out a range of actions the public sector will take, including:


  • ceasing the use of disposable cups, plates and cutlery in any public sector canteen or closed facility, excluding clinical and healthcare environments;
  • promoting the use of bicycles and shared mobility options by providing facilities like secure bike parking, shared mobility parking and charging stations;
  • phasing out, over time, the use of parking in buildings that have access to good public transport and active or shared mobility options, while ensuring that sufficient accessible parking is maintained for those with physical mobility issues or staff who may work out of hours;
  • procuring only zero-emission vehicles when possible (this may not be possible immediately with heavy duty vehicle);
  • eliminating paper-based processes as far as is practical;
  • phasing out fossil fuel heating systems from 2023;
  • specifying low carbon construction methods and low carbon cement material as far as practicable for directly procured or supported construction projects from 2023;
  • establishing and resourcing green teams and reporting on progress in annual reports.


The Mandate applies to all public sector bodies covered by Climate Action Plan decarbonisation targets, except for local authorities, commercial semi-state bodies and schools. It was outlined first in Climate Action Plan 2023, with some of the actions going back to the Programme for Government.


The public sector plays an important leadership role as a catalyst and advocate for ambitious climate action across the buildings, transport, waste, and energy sectors. Further, as a large purchaser of good and services, the promotion of green procurement practices is important to incentivise more sustainable product lines and supply chains.


A lot of the work has already begun. The SEAI’s Annual Report 2022 on Public Sector Energy Performance showed that public sector bodies are now 31.5% more energy efficient than in 2009, saving €2.2 billion in the process. The report (available here) indicates that while energy efficiency in 2021 was down from 34% in 2020, this reduction was likely due to a rebound in consumption following the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions. The report also indicates that non-electricity greenhouse gas emissions decreased in 2021 by 3% relative to a 2016-2018 average baseline, while total emissions decreased by 14%.


Minister Ryan said: “Ireland’s public sector is already leading on efforts to combat climate change and will go further in coming years, in real and practical ways that will make a difference not just to their workplaces and work practices, but which will help us achieve our overall climate goals.


“There are an estimated 350,000 people working in the public service — a really large and important cross section of our population. The changes set out in this Mandate will not all be easy to do. They will require changes in how we work, in how we may have gotten to work for years, or how we heat and retrofit where we work. However, these changes will also bring opportunities and rewards — warmer offices, less wasteful work practices, less congestion where many offices are located, and swifter transition to the lower emissions we have to reach by the end of this decade.”


Minister Smyth added: “I particularly welcome the focus on green public procurement within the Strategy, since, as a large purchaser of goods and services, the public sector can influence supply chains towards offering greener products through its procurement practices.


“On a very practical level, I am delighted to see actions like the proposed review of paper-based processes particularly in this digitised world and the cessation of the use of disposable cups, plates and cutlery in public service work place canteens. It will help make the public service far less wasteful, which is good from the point of view of procurement but also, critically, from the point of view of our environment.”


The Department has also developed a Public Sector Climate Action Strategy 2023-2025 in collaboration with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other Government Departments, and State agencies. The aim of the strategy is to provide consistency across the public service and place the public sector on a clear pathway to achieving at least a 51% reduction in GHG emissions, and a 50% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.


For further information on the Public Sector Climate Action Mandate and the Public Sector Climate Action Strategy 2023-2025 please visit



Public Sector Climate Action Mandate


The Public Sector Climate Action Mandate 2023 applies to all public sector bodies, with the exception of schools, local authorities and commercial semi-state bodies.


All public sector bodies that are subject to the Mandate will be required to develop a Climate Action Roadmap setting out how they will implement the Mandate to deliver on Ireland’s energy efficiency and emissions reduction targets. The purpose of the Roadmap is to encourage a collective vision, strategy, and planning within each organisation. The SEAI and the EPA have published guidance for preparing Roadmaps, which will be updated in line with this year’s climate action mandate.


The Mandate will be reviewed each year as part of the preparation of the annual update to the climate action plan.


Public Sector Climate Action Strategy 2023-2025


The Public Sector Climate Action Strategy 2023-2025 focuses on governance, which has been identified as a key pillar in supporting the leadership role that public sector decarbonisation must play in the broader nation-wide net-zero transition.


The sections on reporting, roadmaps, climate and sustainability champions, and green teams are intended to provide guidance in support of the Public Sector Climate Action Mandate and will provide consistency in climate action activity across the public service. The Strategy also addresses green public procurement, sustainable travel, a strategic approach for building, and financing.


The Strategy draws from a range of national and international policies, including the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, annual Climate Action Plans, the European Clean Vehicles Directive, and EU developments.


Climate Action Plan 2023


The Public Sector Climate Action Mandate and Public Sector Climate Action Strategy 2023-2025 are underpinned by Climate Action Plan 2023.


Climate Action Plan 2023, launched in December 2022, is the second annual update to Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019. This plan is the first to be prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, and following the introduction of economy-wide carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings. Implementation of the Climate Action Plan will create jobs, new economic opportunities and protect people and the planet. You can view Climate Action Plan 2023 and its annex of actions at


SEAI 2022 Annual Report on Public Sector Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Performance 


Public bodies are required to report annual energy data to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) using an online national energy monitoring and reporting system.


The 2022 Annual Report on Public Sector Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Performance, which reports on 2021 data, shows that the 345 public bodies and 2,898 schools who reported collectively improved their energy efficiency by 31.5% since 2009.

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