IFA President Eddie Downey said the talks between the Heads of Government in Brussels today represent an important milestone in EU climate policy as European leaders seek to reach agreement on the European Union’s climate and energy commitment up to 2030.
He said, “It is now universally accepted that Ireland’s agri-food sector is amongst the most carbon efficient in the world. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny heralded this at the recent UN Climate Summit in New York. However, farmers have a wider role in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are food producers, fuel producers and energy producers. Farmers must do these things while maintaining and enhancing the environment. This multi-functional role of agriculture is something that IFA, various Government Departments and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny have continued to articulate to our European colleagues, in advance of the climate talks this week”.
However, Eddie Downey said this has not always been understood and was broadly ignored by other EU member states when negotiating previous climate targets. It has singularly contributed to the often divisive debate regarding climate policy in this country.
The IFA President said the safe-guarding of Ireland’s carbon-efficient agri-food sector is worth fighting for this week. “The sector supports 300,000 jobs right across the country, is the largest exporter of beef in Europe, produces 15% of the world’s infant formula and has overall food exports of over €10 billion. This is being achieved sustainably. Ireland’s beef and dairy farmer’s carbon footprint is among the lowest in Europe, as verified by Carbon Trust and others.”
It is now time for a fairer climate package for Ireland from Europe, one which recognises and supports the development of Ireland’s carbon-efficient model of food production. At this time of increasing global demand for protein based foods such as beef, it is important that past mistakes in climate talks are not repeated. Carbon efficient countries, such as Ireland, must be encouraged to meet this demand, instead of being displaced by less carbon efficient regions.
Progress has been made at the recent EU Agriculture Council of Ministers meeting and Department of Environment meetings. IFA will continue to seek to deliver full recognition of Ireland’s carbon-efficient food production system and remain confident that An Taoiseach Enda Kenny can deliver this at the Heads of Government meeting this week.