23 Apr 2014
CARBON NEUTRAL AGRICULTURE UNACHIEVABLE AND MUST NOT HINDER SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SECTOR
IFA President Eddie Downey has welcomed the decision not to impose divisive sectoral climate targets in the Climate Bill published today. However, he described the policy aspiration of carbon neutrality for the agriculture sector as unattainable based on current production knowledge.
“The issue of sectoral targets, as proposed in previous draft legislation, caused unnecessary distractions and ignored the reality that agriculture serves many objectives such as the production of food, feed, raw material and energy. It also raises environmental quality and contributes to climate mitigation and adaptation. Legislation cannot simply seek to cut emissions from Ireland’s emission efficient farming sector without impacting on the many other roles of agriculture. Our emission reduction targets are clear and set out in EU legislation.”
Commenting on a proposal of carbon neutrality for the agriculture sector, Eddie Downey said, “This proposal is unachievable with current knowledge and production systems and represents a serious barrier to the sustainable expansion of the sector as set out in the growth plan Food Harvest 2020. It is essential that the full carbon sequestering potential of grassland and forestry is recognised and attributed to agriculture”.
“Farmers in Ireland are amongst the most carbon efficient food producers in the world, based on emissions per litre of milk and kilo of beef. This is independently verified. Uniquely, over 30,000 farmers across the country are participating in carbon measuring and monitoring through the Bord Bia Quality Assurance scheme.”
The IFA President said, “Demand for sustainably produced food is increasing globally. Climate policy must not hinder emission efficient food produced in Ireland. Progress has been made in Europe in recent months, recognising the multifunctional roles of agriculture when addressing climate change. It is now essential that the international discussions in advance of COP 21 in Paris in 2015 urgently address the food security crisis facing the world. We have to support sustainable food production in regions such as Ireland, at a time when global population is expected to exceed nine billion over the next decade”.