Friday, July 29, 2022

Vivienne Clarke

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has denied farmers are “getting off lightly” in comparison to other sectors when it comes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

A deal was reached on Thursday to reduce emissions in key sectors of the Irish economy, with a compromise cut of 25 per cent for agriculture. A cut of 75 per cent was set for the electricity sector and 50 per cent for the transport sector.

Tim Cullinan, president of the IFA, this morning denied farmers had secured an easy deal.

His members will engage in the process, he told Newstalk Breakfast, but there was a lot of worry on the ground. Food production needed to be considered, he added.

“Will we have enough by the end of the year? We have to ensure there is adequate supply, that we don’t have a humanitarian crisis on our doorstep.”

Mr Cullinan said farmers were working very hard to tackle emissions, but there needed to be a recognition that this was a huge challenge.

Both the Ministers for Agriculture and Climate had mentioned funding, but there had been no mention of that on Thursday, he said.

‘Problematic’

On the same programme Cara Augustenborg, Professor of Environmental Policy at University College Dublin and a member of the Climate Change Advisory Council, said that while she was relieved a deal had finally been agreed on emissions, science did not care about compromises.

The train had left the station, it was moving very slowly and was not going to reach its destination on time, she warned.

“This deal needs revision. There is a need to go back and revise the targets upwards”.

Last night, chair of the council Marie Donnelly issued a statement describing the new sectoral targets as “problematic”.

The agreed cuts did not amount to the legally-binding target of a 51 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, she said, noting there was no agreement on a cut for the land use sector – which has been delayed for another 18 months to allow for the completion of the land-use strategy.

“The quantified emissions reductions only amount to a reduction of 43 per cent excluding the land use sector and are therefore not consistent with the objective in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act,” Ms Donnelly said.

“They exclude the land use sector which is a source of emissions and needs to be addressed urgently.”

Ms Donnelly said there remains “considerable uncertainty” around how the carbon budgets will be delivered.

“Whilst these targets are a useful starting point the targets will need to be revised upwards and monitored closely in the light of experience. The Climate Action Plan 2023, due later this year, will need to set out the precise actions and steps that will need to be followed in order to align with the ambition of the carbon budgets which were adopted by the Oireachtas in April,” she said.

She added it was also important that Ag Climatise, the roadmap for a climate neutral agriculture sector by 2050, is reviewed and strengthened, “providing a clear roadmap and supports for family farms and recognising the role that they will play in the generation of renewable energy for Ireland.”

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