Bruton: ‘Agriculture feels like it is being pointed out for blame’

Ireland will have a 1% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions rather than the 20% target it needed to reach for 2020, according to Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton.

This will mean it is likely that Ireland will have to pay up to €150 million to purchase carbon credits to compensate for its missed targets, the minister told attendees at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Climate Conference 2019.

In efforts to tackle the issue, the minister gave his backing to the work conducted by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and its report, which set out a series of 40 recommendations to reduce emissions.

Targets

Noting that targets for 2050 will aim for a carbon-neutral position, Minister Bruton underlined the challenges to be met.

He noted that Government bodies have already been instructed to assume the carbon tax, currently charged at a rate of €20/t, will be as high as €265/t by 2050.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee in its report had recommended increasing the existing carbon tax from €20 to €80/t by 2030.

“Meeting Ireland’s EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 2030 will be extremely challenging,” Minister Bruton told attendees.

“We have to make profound changes in our lifestyles in every walk of life.”

However, he stressed the need to avoid opening up divisions in society, noting that the agricultural sector feels targeted for blame on emissions.

Role of forestry

Minister Bruton underlined the “huge potential” in forestry, noting that every farmer has “responsibilities to plant”.

The minister referenced the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), noting that planting would play a role in the reformed policy.

He added that there is disinterest in the area, despite generous supports.