Climate emergency declaration described as ‘a wake-up call’

The Dáil’s declaration of a climate emergency yesterday, Thursday, May 9, has been described as “a wake-up call following a decade of climate inaction by successive Governments”.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) environment chairman Thomas Cooney said: “The first national climate roadmap out to 2030 was published in 2009.

“The key actions that would deliver the greatest climate impact were known, but not acted upon adequately.

Farm scale and community-based renewable supports were not put in place to support the displacement of fossil fuels.

“Instead, we have lost a decade to acrimony and finger wagging including trying to make farmers the fall guys for decades of climate inaction in this country.

“Amid all the noise in the climate debate, it has become lost that the key culprit of emissions spiralling out of control in Ireland is transport, not farming and food production.

“This climate emergency declaration must focus on action,” he stressed.

Farming is one of the few sectors with a plan. Teagasc’s climate roadmap is an important scientific pathway to assist the agri-food sectors low carbon transition.

“This scientific plan is far better than the unrealistic proposals put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly or threats to the national herd.

“Farmers are engaged in positive climate actions. Over 212,000 carbon assessments have been completed, as part of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.

“Over 40% of farmers participate in the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS). Over 10,000km of biodiversity and climate positive hedgerows have been planted.

Over 1,000 farmers interact in the voluntary Smart Farming programme. Farming needs to get the carbon and biodiversity savings recognised from these actions.

Concluding, Cooney reiterated: “The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous productive sector and a key driver of economic activity in every parish in Ireland.

“To secure a just and sustainable climate transition, future climate measures must lead to improved farm level profitability.”