‘Action on climate change is not a choice – it’s a must’

“Everyone has to put their shoulders to the wheel when it comes to reducing climate change.”

These were the opening words from Commissioner Phil Hogan speaking at the European Dairy Association (EDA) Conference today (Friday, November 16) at Dublin Castle.

Also in attendance at the historic venue were many international and European stakeholders of the agricultural and dairy industries.

Commissioner Hogan highlighted the current challenges facing the European agricultural sector in terms of sustainability; both economic and environmental.

Speaking on the topic of climate change, he explained that there is increasing demand from society that action is taken to mitigate climate change.

Highlighting the scale of the current challenge facing European agriculture, he said: “We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 40% by 2030 and make improvements in renewable energy and energy use efficiency.”

He spoke about the current challenges facing Irish agriculture, noting that, in Ireland, 33% of GHG emissions come from agriculture. He also noted that European agriculture contributes to 10% of its total GHG emissions.

Commissioner Hogan commented that weather patterns concentrate the minds of people, indicating that the awareness of the climate change issues is increasing; he indicated that agriculture has an important role to play in tackling climate change.

He explained that there are tools and new technologies, identified by research, that can minimise agriculture’s impact on climate change.

However, farmers and food producers are not taking up these new technologies – and they should be a rewarded if they do, he noted.

With help, in the form of financial support, farming will undergo an “agri-tech revolution”. This will modernise farms and make them more economical and environmentally sustainable.

Commissioner Hogan concluded his talk by saying: “Farmers must be sustainable and they must be rewarded for that.

“The dairy sector has a good story to tell,” he said, indicating that the quality products combined with the welfare friendly image of cows grazing in fields is a good selling point when it comes to marketing European dairy products.