Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue along with Minister of State Pippa Hackett had a “positive exchange” on issues related to climate change and biodiversity with the EU Commission vice president Frans Timmermans this week.

The European Commission Green Deal is “the cornerstone of the commission’s increased ambition on climate action”.

Its objective is that the EU will become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and sets out the policy and legislative agenda for climate and the environment.

Following yesterday’s (Tuesday, March 2) meeting, McConalogue said that overall, the Green Deal ambitions for sustainable growth “are well reflected in the Irish agricultural policy approach”.

He said that the objective to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 “aligns well” with Ag Climatise, the national climate and air roadmap for the agriculture sector.

“Central to our climate ambitions is the protection of farm incomes,” the minister added. “Commissioner Timmermans and ourselves are clear on how we must work together to ensure alignment between EU and national policy on these very important questions.”

‘Ambitions to embrace climate and environmental challenges’

Forestry and the role in climate change mitigation was also discussed, and its importance in achieving carbon neutrality in the land use sector. The importance of protecting biodiversity is also an intrinsic part of the Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 puts in place a framework “that will be reflected in national policies”.

Minister Hackett said that Ireland has ambitions “to embrace climate and environmental challenges and turn them into opportunities”. 

“As we do that, we must ensure the transition is just and inclusive for all,” the senator said.

While we are not underestimating the task ahead, we are determined to make the Green Deal work for the agriculture and land use sector.

“Increasing the levels of afforestation will play a significant role in meeting our climate change targets. However, we must ensure that the right tree, in the right place, for the right reason, is our way forward.”