Emissions reductions of 68,000t of CO2 have been delivered following the restoration of 10,500 ha of peatland restoration across 35 bogs, according to the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications.

Minister Eamon Ryan has highlighted peatlands restoration “as a permanent reduction process” and an example of how carbon reductions can be achieved in Ireland.

The government will publish an updated Climate Action Plan today (Wednesday, December 21)  which Minister Ryan said “will reflect a strengthened climate governance framework”.

The Green Party leader has warned that the “challenge and scale of the changes” that Ireland will implement to meet its reduction in emissions of 51% by 2030, compared to 2018 levels “will not be easy to deliver”.

He recently outlined to the Dáil that the Climate Action Plan 2023 will set out the actions which will be undertaken in order to meet these targets.

“Each minister with responsibility for a sectoral ceiling will be responsible for monitoring the progress of their actions to ensure they will meet their targets and must address any shortfall through amending current policies and/or developing new ones.”

The minister also stressed that Ireland along with over 100 other countries has signed up to the Global Methane Pledge which seeks to specifically reduce methane emissions globally by 30% by 2030 based on 2020 levels.

“Domestically, methane emissions from our agriculture sector will reduce in the coming years with new technologies, more efficient animals, and diversification across the sector.

“However, our contribution to this global target will not come solely from our agriculture sector. Landfill also contributes to methane emissions, ” Minister Ryan detailed.

Separately the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has stressed that no measure contained in the updated Climate Action Plan will be forced on farmers.

Climate Action Plan will incorporate Food Vision reports

But the final reports of the Food Vision dairy and beef and sheep groups have fed into the Climate Action Plan and these have included measures for herd reduction schemes.

Food Vision Dairy Group’s final report contained 19 recommended actions for mitigating the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the dairy sector. This included a proposed exit or reduction scheme which outlined elements of a “full/ partial destocking”.

Meanwhile the The Food Vision Beef and Sheep Group identified nine recommendations that could “reduce greenhouse gas emissions” including reducing slaughter age, reducing nitrous oxide emissions and adopting new breeding practices.

One of the recommendations also outlined a voluntary diversification scheme and a voluntary extensification scheme – both of which would result in a removal or reduction in the number of suckler cows.

Farmer organisations have said farmers are concerned about how the climate change plan will impact on them directly.

Both the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) have warned that no agreement has been reached to cut numbers in the national herd.