‘Environment proposals are short-changing Irish farmers’

IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney is set to meet with senior representatives from the European Commission in Brussels today (Thursday, June 8).

This meeting occurs at a time when members of the commission’s Environment Committee are negatively targeting agriculture – and seek to reduce the positive contribution that forestry is making in the fight to lessen greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IFA.

Ahead of the meeting, Cooney spoke on the matter. He said: “Current proposals by MEPs who sit on the commission’s Environment Committee are short-changing farmers in Ireland and may result in over 9 million tonnes of carbon savings, from forestry generated by farmers, being disregarded.

“Ireland faces significant challenges over the next decade to deliver on EU climate obligations.

While emissions from farming have fallen by 6%, emissions from transport have increased by 130% since 1990 and overall national emissions increased by 7% over the same period.

“Members of the European Parliament should not be unravelling existing agreements,” Cooney added.

They should be doing everything in their power to maximise the carbon-saving potential of agriculture, whether that is from renewable energy production, forestry, permanent pastures or bio-energy.

Cooney urged Irish MEPs to make sure that climate policy is implemented, in compliance with the international Paris agreement, in a way that does not threaten food production and food security.

Additionally, Cooney welcomed minister Varadkar’s focus on the energy and transport sectors for future emission reduction cuts.

He stated that he looks forward to working to deliver in these areas, and pushed for the long-awaited renewable heat incentive scheme and bio-energy programme to be announced.