Government ‘recognising the best science on methane’ – Macra

Following the publication yesterday of the Climate Action Bill, the government’s recognition of “the best science” on biogenic methane has been welcomed by Macra na Feirme.

Macra president Thomas Duffy said that the bill recognised the role of agriculture in tackling climate change, and the risk of carbon leakage.

The specific lines in the bill that Duffy was referring to were “the special economic and social role of agriculture” and “the risk of substantial and unreasonable carbon leakage”.

Ambitious targets are needed for us to address climate action and protect our farmers from the effects of increased drought and flooding as a result of climate change, but the role of agriculture in this is different to energy or industry.

“It would be very easy for political calls to reduce agricultural emissions here by simply outsourcing them to other countries with lower environmental sustainability like Brazil,” Duffy noted.

The Macra president highlighted: “This has happened in manufacturing. The recognition of the risk of this to food production is vital. We will hold the government to account if the promise to prevent this is weakened.”

The bill also outlines the government’s plan to recognise “the characteristics of biogenic methane”, in reference to the special report on Global Warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018.

“How to treat methane in inventories is a vital element of agriculture climate action. It is good to see the government recognising the best science by the IPCC,” Duffy concluded.

Legally-binding targets

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 was published yesterday (Wednesday, October 7) and the government has said legally-binding targets for emissions from agriculture will “probably come later”.

The Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport Eamon Ryan said that the bill, which passed through the cabinet yesterday, will be enacted by mid-December.

The minister said “it will not be an easy process” to carbon-neutrality and that it requires a lot of sectors “to change their ways”.

Each sector will be assigned sectoral targets, including agriculture, and it has been recognised by the government that it is not possible to have a target of net-zero emissions in the agriculture sector.