A national climate and air roadmap for the agriculture sector – entitled Ag Climatise – has been launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the roadmap sets an ambitious vision for a climate neutral agriculture sector by 2050.

It includes 29 actions with specific and challenging targets aimed at reducing the environmental footprint and further building on the strong credentials of Irish agriculture.

The actions in the roadmap are primarily based on the Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACC) regarding greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. Other actions proposed are based on a public consultation exercise which launched in late 2019 which generated 100 written submission and 400 online responses.

Further in-person and virtual stakeholder events took place during Q1 and Q2 of 2020, the department says.

It was added that the roadmap is very much a “living document”, with a “clear commitment to engaging with stakeholders on achieving what are no-doubt very challenging targets in key areas such as reducing fertiliser use and increasing use of low emission manure spreading technology”.

Delivery on these actions will require engagement and collaboration amongst all the stakeholders including farmers, farm bodies, industry and stakeholders to deliver on these challenging targets.

The roadmap also contains a number of cross cutting actions in this regard, including further research and innovation to identify added opportunities.

Commenting at the launch, Minister McConalogue said: “This roadmap follows extensive engagement with all stakeholders and identifies key pathways and targets for improving the climate and air footprint of our sector.

“Irish agriculture has a strong reputation for the safety and environmental sustainability of its produce and this roadmap challenges us to build on this reputation.

“We need to start doing this today, and it is with this firmly in mind that I am publishing this roadmap now.”

The Minister of State, Senator Pippa Hackett, also welcomed the launch of the Ag Climatise roadmap, recognising it as “the beginning of the action needed to ensure the sustainable development of the agriculture and land-use sector”.

She said: “The roadmap includes some ambitious actions on reducing emissions and puts a focus on alternative land uses, sequestration and renewable energy.

Greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from the sector have been going in the wrong direction. We need a clear pathway to reverse this trend, and this roadmap sets us on that path.

Minister of State Martin Heydon noted that the agriculture sector is the first sector to produce such a detailed plan to reduce the climate impact of its activities, and that a key objective is to better explain what the sector is doing in this space.

He said: “Farmers are custodians of the landscape and are already doing a lot in this space. There is more to be done, and our climate ambition can only be achieved by working closely with our farmers.”

Minister McConalogue concluded, stating: ‘‘The department will continue to engage collaboratively and will establish expert groups to oversee the development and implementation of actions where a path to delivery is unclear.

“Additionally, as science and innovation continue to develop climate solutions, there will be further opportunities to support and develop the environmental credentials of what is our most important native industry.”