Agri methane emissions cuts not required by EU for now – McGuinness confirms

Reductions in methane emission, which emanate from the agriculture sector, will not now be mandatory following an agreement at EU level to cut air pollution levels by 2030, Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament has confirmed.

However, the European Commission has said that it could trigger a review of methane emissions in the future.

“Negotiators reached agreement to curb pollutants including ammonia from manure and fertilizer and machinery emissions, setting binding national targets for 2030.

“Removing the requirement to cut methane emissions from livestock is particularly important for Ireland’s grass based livestock sector”, McGuinness, a member of the Parliaments Agriculture and Environment committees, said.

The revision of the National Emissions Ceiling Directive (NEC) aims to tackle the significant number of premature deaths caused by air pollution. Each year 400,000 premature deaths in the EU are linked to poor air quality.

“The proposal sets out the national emission reduction commitments for the main pollutants: sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), ammonia (NH3), and fine particulates (less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter).

“The aim of the agreement is reduce health impacts by 50pc and improve health and well being of EU citizens and reduce healthcare costs linked to treating diseases caused by air pollution.”

Total external costs linked to emissions are in the range of €330-940bn per year, including direct economic damage of €15bn from lost workdays and €4bn healthcare costs.

“While methane emission reduction have been excluded from the agreement, this may come back in future discussions and is an issue which the agriculture sector may be required to address”, she added.