‘Agriculture will always result in GHG emissions’ – Creed

It has been highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, that the EU’s long-term strategy ‘A Clean Planet for All’ acknowledges that agricultural production “will always result in non-CO2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions”, such as methane and nitrous oxide.

In making the comment, Minister Creed clarified: “These gases can be reduced by 2050 thanks to efficient and sustainable production methods.”

The minister made the comments in response to a question from Independent TD Mattie McGrath asking if an analysis has been carried out by his department on the impact on agriculture arising from an EU commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Continuing, Minister Creed said: “As a sector most impacted by climate change, we recognise the importance of calls for more ambitious climate action including the commitment to achieve climate neutrality.

The strategy suggests that any residual emissions need to be balanced by negative emissions opportunities, such as afforestation and increased use of biomass in energy systems and displacement of energy intensive materials and, in combination with carbon capture and storage, can lead to increased negative emissions.

“Innovation will play an increasingly important role,” he stressed.

Currently, the long-term ambition for the agriculture sector is an approach to carbon neutrality which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production.

While carbon neutrality has yet to be defined, the aim is to balance residual agricultural emissions by increasing carbon-sequestration and increasing fossil fuel and energy intensive materials displacement.

Continuing, Minister Creed explained: “The sector is pursuing a pathway towards carbon neutrality, guided by the principle of sustainable intensification, through measures such as:
  • Efficient multi-trait animal breeding strategies;
  • Efficient use and recycling of nutrients which optimise nitrogen (N) use efficiency and reduce losses of reactive N to the environment;
  • Feeding strategies;
  • Support of improvements to animal health and welfare; and
  • Support of ICT in agriculture to aid delivery of sustainable intensification.”

Concluding, Minister Creed outlined that the Department of Agriculture – in tandem with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – has commissioned a research project by National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) to “quantify pathways to improve understanding of approaches to carbon neutrality consistent with temperature goals of the Paris Agreement”.