This week’s RTÉ series of environmental programmes has been described as “indicative of the sensationalism regarding the agri-sector’s impact on climate change,” according to an Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) presidential candidate.

Co. Tipperary pig farmer and IFA presidential candidate Tim Cullinan has today issued a statement on the series accusing RTÉ of “giving a platform to those who refuse to provide the type of objective and solution-focused analysis of where Ireland fits into the global climate debate.”

Speaking at the IFA Hustings in Co. Tipperary last night, Cullinan said: “Farming is being scapegoated for carbon emissions while the industrial countries of the world are still building coal-fired power stations and massive new oil and gas refineries. Hardly a fair fight with a 30 suckler cow farmer in the west of Ireland.”

Dublin Airport

Cullinan highlighted other areas that should get focus, including aviation. He outlined that passenger numbers through Dublin Airport are up by 12.5 million in six years, an increase of 65%, while a new runway is also underway.

“All this in a sector with one of the fastest growing rates of carbon dioxide emissions – risen 32% from 2013 to 2018.

We have probably the fastest growing airport in Europe in Dublin Airport and it’s tipped to double in size over the next three decades yet there’s little or no focus on that.

“This is ignored by environmentalists and Prof. John Fitzgerald while they remain obsessive in their attacks on family farms.”

‘The soft target’

“Farmers are being set up as the soft target on climate change in this debate. I will not stand for this under my leadership of IFA.

China, India, Russia, the US, Brazil and Indonesia alone account for over 50% of the emissions in the world.

“This global debate on climate change cannot start here in Ireland by proposing to eliminate the small suckler farmer in the west and throughout the disadvantaged areas of the country.

“I promised at the very outset of my campaign that, if elected, I will put the resources and expertise in place within the IFA to expose the misrepresentation of the facts in the climate change debate.

As president I will invest heavily in producing evidence that highlights the uniqueness of Irish grass-based production in contrast to the intensive feed systems in other parts of the world.

“This will put proper perspective on the conversation and stop the lazy finger pointing at the farming community.”

Earlier this week, the IFA presidential candidate put forward new environmental proposals which he claims “would put a value on grass as a sequester of carbon while maintaining and protecting suckler farming in disadvantaged areas”.

“This new proposal should go hand in hand with a national programme promoted by the Government that would involve Teagasc undertaking a massive research programme to assess and quantify the amount of carbon being sequestrated by our Irish grass-based production system,” Cullinan concluded.