Fianna Fáil’s agriculture spokesperson in the Seanad, senator Paul Daly, has said that in the context of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 (Climate Action Bill) it is important to “give credit to the agriculture sector for the greenhouse gas that land, trees and hedgerows sequester and store”.

Senator Daly made the comment as he welcomed the acceptance of his amendment by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, to the Climate Action Bill.

Close to 250 amendments were tabled as the bill passed through the Dáil but just two were accepted in the end.

Senator Daly’s amendment (number 1) and another from Fine Gael senator, Tim Lombard (number 92) were accepted as one amendment at committee stage in the Seanad on Friday, July 2.

This will now allow carbon removals and storage to be included when budgets are set for each sector.

This is particularly relevant for the agriculture sector, said senator Daly, as it will acknowledge the sequestration and storage that is taking place already through features such as land, trees and hedgerows.

This is something the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) had been calling for as the bill, in its original design, failed to acknowledge it.

“Sectoral emission targets and carbon budgets are a key part of this bill and it is important that the removal of greenhouse gas emissions is taken into account when setting and achieving these,” senator Daly said.

Speaking in the Seanad on Friday, Minister Ryan said the “shaming and blaming” of farmers and agriculture have to stop.

“Agriculture will not be the most difficult sector to change,” he said.

“Maybe I am biased in that regard because I am the Minister for Transport and I am scratching my head every day thinking how in God’s name we will change transport.

“We do not have the removals capability in transport that there is in agriculture. We are wedded to the existing transport infrastructure and it will be difficult to change.”

But, he said, agriculture has to play its part in real emissions reductions, not just removals and sequestration.

“That has to be abundantly clear.”

The second Climate Action Bill amendment accepted by Minister Ryan related to the removal of the proposed definition of climate justice in the bill.

Committee stage of the Climate Action Bill continues in the Seanad tomorrow, Monday, July 5. Report and final stages will take place on Friday, July 9.

And a final Dáil vote is required (possibly next Tuesday or Wednesday, July 13 or 14) before the bill becomes law.