Why is An Taisce and the Environmental Pillar (EP) solely focused on the suppression of Irish agricultural production, and thus against the Paris Accord on climate action?

There have been a number of clarifications of the broad spectrum challenge of what climate action represents, both locally for Ireland and globally, as against the narrow focus of the anti-agriculture bias of mainstream media, and the Environmental Pillar in recent weeks.

Carbon credits

Former agriculture minister Michael Creed, in a recent Dáil debate on the Climate Action Bill, made the very salient point that, in essence, the Irish economy “has no historical industrial heritage” and thus Irish agriculture sits in a national accounting system which has no carbon credits.

He effectively said that “if we were to lift Irish agriculture, lock, stock and barrel into any other developed country… it would be far more efficient than the production systems in other jurisdictions”.

This reality of context, either scientifically or geographically, is dismissed by the environmental lobby.

Hardly a day goes by without an accusation from our mainstream media in conjunction with the Environmental Pillar or An Taisce that the Irish government and the Irish agri-sector, is breaching or ignoring the Paris Accord.

Any examination of what the Paris Accord actually states, shows that this is very explicitly not the case.

In essence, the Paris Accord emphasises achieving a balance in climate action commitments, that goes against An Taisce actions and intent, by very explicitly emphasising that actions in “response to the threat of climate change” do not threaten food production.

Paris Accord 2015

Article 2 states:

This agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention, including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by:

  • (a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
  • (b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.

Very clearly and succinctly, the commitment of the Irish government, and indeed the core of Irish government policy under the Ag Climatise charter, the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) process, and the proposed Climate and Low Carbon Bill 2021, is geared towards achieving the balance required in meeting our national commitments as set out in the Paris Accord.

An Taisce appeal

In contrast, the decision of An Taisce to appeal the High Court ruling granting planning permission to Glanbia’s Co. Kilkenny cheese plant, is directly in breach of the specific commitment in the Paris Accord not to ‘threaten food production’.

In many respects this is not new information, and the following explains why:

  • An Taisce and the EP have been long-term advocates of the suppression, if not elimination, of livestock farming in Ireland which accounts for 80% of agricultural activity;
  • An Taisce and the EP have consistently refused to acknowledge any balancing factors with regard to the challenges of achieving climate action commitments, while recognising the imperative of feeding a growing world population;
  • In conjunction with mainstream media in Ireland, An Taisce and the EP have totally dismissed the very real issue of carbon leakage, whereby suppression of food production in Ireland and other regulated, sustainable food producing countries, will simply lead to increased supply from non-regulated and non-compliant environmentally polluting regions, and therefore increased carbon emissions.

Lobbying for veganism

What is becoming clearer is that the prejudices of An Taisce and the EP, and the resulting pursuit of blocking planning applications and ultimately food production in Ireland, have little, if anything, to do with climate action challenges.

Indeed a very significant element of the An Taisce lobby, including attempting to provide dietary advice to Irish school children, has been focused on a vegan agenda which attempts to redefine food as being plant-based only.

It is very clear that Irish agriculture and its hugely significant agri-food sector, which supports 260,000 jobs across the economy, and is the largest single sectoral source of Irish economy spend, must continue to address its environmental impact and improve its climate action performance.

It is also very clear that suppressing this life blood of the regional Irish economy is not just economically and socially catastrophic, it is in fundamental breach of our national commitments to the Paris Accord.