Department of Finance issues climate guidance to public sector

Released by the Department of Finance on 2 May 2023, the roadmap calls for the appointment of a Climate and Sustainability Champion in each public body.

It is intended that the Department’s role in helping the public sector reach its climate ambitions should be to advise those bodies of their responsibilities and share other relevant information from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). It is further outlined that these bodies should remain wholly responsible for their own internal operational actions to address their respective mandates.

This requirement applies to all public bodies, other than local authorities, commercial semi-state bodies and schools, each of which have their own respective targets.

A letter from the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, in July 2022 asked the Department of Finance to “arrange to have all the relevant public sector bodies under your remit advised of the requirement to adopt the Public Sector Climate Action Mandate”.

It was Minister Ryan’s letter which originally called for the appointment of a “Climate and Sustainability Champion who will be responsible for implementing and reporting annually on the Public Sector Mandate in the Department”.

At a meeting on 29 August 2022, the Executive Board of the Department of Finance adopted the mandate and assigned the role of Climate and Sustainability Champion to the Principal Officer in the Strategic Economic Development Division with responsibility for climate and sustainable finance. The Head of Corporate Affairs with responsibility for FMU, who is also currently the Department of Finance’s Energy Performance Officer (required under the Public Sector Energy Strategy 2017), will also play a role – and climate advice may be provided by the Climate Unit when required.

Strategic adaptability

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) has advised that the Climate Action Mandate may be changed in updates to the Climate Action Plan (CAP). Additional guidance will be issued by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if necessary, and public bodies would be given at least three months from issue of such guidance to update their roadmaps to reflect any revised Climate Action Mandate requirements.

Irrespective of whether the Climate Action Mandate is updated in the CAP, the report advises that public bodies should review their roadmaps annually. These annual reviews, the Department advises, should include a summary of progress made against the plans set out in the previous year’s roadmap, assess progress against meeting the mandate requirements, and a statement on when they will be achieved or delivered.

It is further explained that SEAI’s public sector monitoring and reporting system will track progress towards the energy efficiency and energy related carbon targets.

Governance, scope, and resourcing

The wider policy actions in which the Department of Finance has a role in respect of climate action are not the focus of the Climate Action Roadmap, as those have been previously outlined in documents such as the Climate Action Plan and its updates, as well as the Programme for Government.

Instead, this plan is focused on the organisational-level actions the Department of Finance could take to meet this mandate, many of which will be undertaken in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform (DPENDPDR).

The Department of Finance has a reciprocal shared services arrangement in place with the DPENDPDR. As part of this, the Department of Finance provides facilities management services to DPENDPDR in respect of all of the buildings it uses, with the exception of Spencer Dock, where the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) are based.

In this context, it is planned that the Department of Finance will work closely with DPENDPDR on many of the initiatives set out in the roadmap. The main reason for this is that the Department’s Facilities Management Unit (FMU) provides the following services for both departments:

  • accommodation for the Department of Finance and DPENDPDR staff within the buildings under FMU’s remit including services relating to such accommodation;
  • cleaning services, minor works, heating, lighting, waste management and provision of furniture; and
  • providing data and information to enable DPENDPDR to report on resource efficiency and energy usage.
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