Minister Eamon Ryan has said in the Seanad today (Friday, July 2) that he intends to accept two amendments to the climate bill that will allow recognition for carbon removals as part of sectoral targets and carbon budgets.

Over 200 amendments to the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 have been proposed with the minister rejecting the vast majority.

Recognition for carbon removals a ‘game-changer’

Senator Tim Lombard, who brought forward one of the amendments that will “give due recognition for the idea of carbon sequestration”, told Agriland that this is a “game-changer”.

“We can account for the removal of carbon into our soils, our bogs and our hedgerows when it comes to the carbon budgets for agriculture which in my opinion, is a really important step,” the senator said.

“The farming community felt the climate bill was very much against them in so many ways; they felt berated by it; and I think this is the game-changer that they needed.

“So from our point of view, there will be due recognition for the work farmers are doing on the ground regarding soils, hedgerows.

“We know there’s major changes coming down the line, and what we really wanted here was fair play. And I think today was a major step in getting that fair play for the sector.

“We’re the only industry that can actually remove carbon and that was never acknowledged throughout the bill.”

Minister Ryan spoke in support of the amendments, but cautioned that allowing for the accounting of removals “doesn’t remove the need to reduce emissions”.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has welcomed the minister’s decision to accept the amendments.

However, IFA president Tim Cullinan warned that “there are still serious issues with the bill, particularly around the ‘distinct characteristics’ of biogenic methane, along with the need to avoid any international carbon leakage arising from the implementation of the bill”.