IFA President John Bryan has said the climate change legislation currently being considered by Government will stall any growth in agri-food exports, undermine economic recovery, cost jobs and is based on flawed calculations of greenhouse gas emissions.
In recent days, IFA has raised the issue with Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Environment Minister John Gormley. “The Programme for Government which commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 goes way beyond EU requirements and was agreed in different times, when the potential of export-led sectors such as agriculture to drive economic growth was ignored. However the challenge for Government now is not just environmental sustainability, but also economic sustainability where jobs and exports are prioritised.”
Mr. Bryan said, “The science behind the climate change debate is flawed. The current greenhouse gas emissions accounting method used by the EPA and the Department of the Environment takes no account of the carbon sinks associated with permanent pasture and forestry. This is totally unacceptable because the country has the largest, carbon-absorbing permanent pastures in Europe and the greatest potential to expand the forestry sector.”
IFA Regional Vice-President and Climate Change spokesman Jer Bergin said, “Ireland is the third largest international exporter of beef in the world and our grass-based production system ensures that Irish farmers produce beef with less carbon intensity than other exporting nations. Over the past 20 years emissions from milk and beef production havel declined in Ireland. We have a low carbon model of food production and proposed climate change legislation should recognise and support this.”
Ireland’s agri-food sector is of much greater importance to the national economy than many other countries. The sector employs over 270,000 people, representing 1 in every 7 jobs and export sales from the sector have risen by 14% this year.