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IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has said that Teagasc’s climate marginal abatement curve published 250 days ago, needs to be acted upon by the Government and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action as a matter of urgency.

In June of last year, Teagasc published a scientific report which identifies the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some nine megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is almost half of all the emissions attributed to agriculture and can be delivered by changes in agricultural practice, land-use changes and fossil fuel displacement in the sector.

Thomas Cooney said, “Instead of more carbon taxes and quotas on sustainable grass-based food produced in Ireland we should follow the science set out by Teagasc. There is a real danger that some other knee-jerk measures could add further costs to the sector and impact on jobs. They may also increase global greenhouse gas emissions, as carbon efficient food produced in Ireland will be replaced by food produced on deforested lands in Amazonian regions including Brazil.”

“Agriculture is one of the few sectors that has an emissions reduction strategy, which can make a difference for the environment, diversification of farm incomes and support rural regeneration. It’s time Government backed the Teagasc climate plan and moved to put appropriate conditions in place to make it happen,” he said.

Following his address to the IFA AGM earlier this week, IFA Renewables Project Team Chairman Tom Short said Energy Minister Richard Bruton has to put farm scale & community projects at the heart of his renewables policy, rather than big business.

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Addressing the climate session on the 2nd day of the IFA AGM, IFA President Joe Healy said if Government is serious about addressing climate change and empowering farmers to participate, it should not force a farmer out of an enterprise. It should be about creating economically and environmentally sustainable options for farmers to increase their incomes or reduce costs.

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IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has called on all local authorities to develop plans to address the annual increase in littering of the countryside that takes place post-Christmas, as people recklessly dump cans, bottles, used wrapping paper and even the left overs of Christmas dinners.

Thomas Cooney said, “Recent reports indicate that packaging waste generated from online shopping will increase by 33% this year to 10,000 tonnes. The fact is that this will lead to increased dumping by passing motorists who have no regard for our rural countryside. And it’s time to get tough with these people.”

IFA is calling for more severe sanctions on serial dumpers and changes to the legislation so that farmers are no longer held legally responsible for reckless dumping by others.

Thomas Cooney said, “The on the spot fines for littering introduced this year have not worked. We need increased enforcement action by local authorities, as well as tougher sentences and penalties for large scale serial dumpers.

In a recent meeting with Environment Minister for State Seán Canney T.D., IFA also called for changes to existing litter legislation, by removing the current threat of fines and prosecution of famers on whose land others irresponsibly dump their litter.

Addressing today’s (Wed) meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, IFA President Joe Healy has called on the Committee to support the full implementation of the Teagasc climate roadmap for the sector & Ireland’s carbon efficient model of food production.

IFA President Joe Healy said, “Ireland has a carbon efficient model of food production, with the European Commission confirming that Ireland’s dairy farmers have the lowest carbon footprint for milk and our beef farmers are amongst the five most carbon efficient in the EU. This has been a key contributor to the growth of Ireland’s agri-food sector, with exports of €13.5bn in 2017, employing over 300,000 directly and indirectly.”

The Common Agriculture Programme is very much climate focused, with 87% of the measures in Ireland’s Rural Development programme having environmental measures.

This is supported by the fact that there are over 200,000 carbon assessments completed on farms as part of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.

He added, “There is increasing global demand for the high-quality food types that Irish farmers produce efficiently. It’s important that this sustainable production is not restricted, as it would lead to increased international climate emissions. This would happen because regions like the Brazilian Amazon in South America would be deforested to meet this growing demand. This is a real possibility with the new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro already promising to take Brazil out of the Paris Agreement.”

“The Teagasc climate roadmap published in June this year, represents a clear strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the sector. However, it requires whole of Government support. I have written to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and sought his climate leadership in co-ordinating the coming together the key Government Departments and state agencies to fully deliver this climate roadmap.”

Thomas Cooney said, “Agriculture deserves to have a fairer representation of its climate actions. For example, why are the carbon sinks from Ireland’s permanent pastures, hedgerows and forestry excluded when it comes to climate change and agriculture?
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Agriculture has many roles, as food, fuel and energy producers, with low climate mitigation potential. This is recognised at EU and UN level. However previous hearings of this Committee have heard the Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council acknowledge the complexity of addressing agriculture and climate and the Chair of the Citizens’ Assembly recognises that insufficient time was given to considering this.”

Concluding Thomas Cooney said, “Farmers are engaged in climate action. From a carbon efficiency perspective, we are best in class. We seek logical proposals from the Oireachtas Climate Committee, which takes full account of the potential economic and social impact on farm families and the wider rural economy.”


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