IFA says climate change agreement ‘safeguards’ food production

The international climate change agreement concluded in Paris has been described as ‘pragmatic’, by IFA National Environment Chairman Harold Kingston.

The agreement aims to guide global temperature increases to ‘well below’ 2C and to focus all parties to the agreement to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C.

Kingston said that, significantly for Irish agriculture, article 2 of the agreement emphasises the principle that food production must not be threatened by climate mitigation measures.

“The grandstanding of the environmental NGOs is over.

“International leaders have agreed a path forward which acknowledges and accepts that food production must not be undermined when addressing the global climate challenge,” he said.

According to Kingston, the Paris climate agreement reaffirms the position adopted by Europe in October 2014 and strongly supported by the Irish Government that agriculture has multiple roles, to produce food, fuel and energy in addition to protecting the environment.

The reality that is accepted in the Paris agreement is that emission efficient regions such as Ireland must be supported to develop its food production, he said,

“The reality that is accepted in the Paris agreement is that emission-efficient regions such as Ireland must be supported to develop its food production.

“However, farmers want to build on our strong environmental credentials. Ireland is the only country in the world that monitors, measures and manages carbon from farm to fork, through initiatives such as the IFA-led Smart Farming initiative and the Bord Bia beef and dairy carbon auditing schemes.

These programmes are showing results. Emissions from the sector have fallen by 9% since 1990, while other sectors such as transport continue to spiral out of control.”

Kingston also welcomed progress on carbon sinks, particularly for forestry.

“There is recognition of all agriculture carbon stores such as permanent pastures, of which Ireland has the largest in Europe as a proportion of our agricultural land.”

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