Some 81% of people ‘agree strongly’ or ‘agree’ that Ireland’s EU emissions targets pose a big challenge to the expansion plans of the agriculture sector in Ireland.

Respondents to the survey by the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) were composed of farmers, agri-business professionals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and independent researchers.

They were asked do the onerous emissions reduction targets which apply to Ireland under EU law pose a challenge or an opportunity for Ireland.

The majority of experts and stakeholders (76%) also agreed that the country’s emissions targets present an opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in climate-smart agriculture (CSA).

Furthermore, the survey found that 86% of respondents ‘agree strongly’ or ‘agree’ that establishing Irish leadership on climate-smart agriculture could offer benefits for the agri-food sector.

While these findings were consistent with all groupings, farmers and agri-business professionals were slightly less optimistic about the opportunity.

Some 28% responded that they ‘neither agreed nor disagreed’ or ‘disagreed’ that there was an opportunity however, some 90% saw a benefit from CSA leadership.

Global leader

Ireland can be a global leader in sustainable farming, the survey also found.

Some 86% of respondents said that establishing Irish leadership on climate-smart agriculture could benefit the agri-food sector.

However, it also found that with the Government aiming to boost the value of Irish agri-food exports by 85% to €19 billion over the next decade, 80% of respondents said meeting these objectives is made challenging by our EU obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.