September 19, 2023

Agriculture sector must cut emissions by more than 22%, minister says

The agricultural sector will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 22% as part of the government’s plans to tackle climate change, the environment minister has said.

amon Ryan said it was ‘not easy’ for farmers, but he was close to finalizing emissions reduction targets with Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue.

The Climate Change Advisory Council has recommended carbon reductions of 22% to 30% from the agricultural industry.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Ryan said it was “a challenge” for the sector.

“We hope to conclude this in the next few days,” he said. “It’s not easy, it’s a challenge for agriculture… There is a real opportunity to open up a range of public versus private capital, which will be used to pay young farmers to manage and gift land.

“That’s what me and Charlie (McConalogue) discussed. Training – how doable is it, how could we do it, how can we go further?

“We will have to go further than 22%. I’m not going to get into a discussion of numbers here today.

He added: “We agree on that – that we really need momentum. We need to make sure that every farmer knows this is the way the world is. I’m going to be part of it, play my role and also know that they are going to get a good income from it.

Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConalogue met on Wednesday to discuss the sector’s role in reducing emissions.

The government is expected to approve legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets next week that would require, among other measures, a reduction in the national herd.

Ireland has pledged to halve its carbon emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

Mr Ryan’s comments come as the latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report showed Ireland’s emissions rose by almost 5% last year compared to 2020 and are now 1.1% higher than pre-Covid 2019 restriction levels.

The EPA report found that two-fifths of emissions come from agriculture.

Mr Ryan blamed increased use of the Moneypoint coal-fired power station in Co Clare for the rise in emissions last year.

“By not making as much (progress) last year, we will have to do more in the years to come,” he said.

“The main reason these numbers went up was because Moneypoint was running much longer than it used to.

“With gas prices being so high, Moneypoint was in the order of merit all the time. The increase in transport and agriculture, the use of fertilizers – these are the main reasons.

Mr Ryan said household-related emissions had fallen by nearly 5% which “shows we can do it”.

“Nobody disputes that we have to do it,” he added. How fast can we do it? And yes, we will have to go faster. Yes, we are going to have to do more, but it will only work if it is good for the country, which actually leads to a better system.

He added: “No sector is left out, but neither will any sector be entirely blamed. It won’t work if we point fingers.