“If we do not turn the tide on the climate crisis in this generation, there will not be any agriculture at all. That is the truth of it,” said Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, in the Dáil this week.
He was responding to independent TD, Verona Murphy, who questioned the government’s pursuit of a 22-30% emissions reduction across agriculture.
“Why is the government imposing crazy, batsh*t, urban-centric policy without justification, with targets which are draconian and unrealistic on farmers, and decimating rural Ireland in the process?” she asked.
The government is due to decide on where within that 22-30% range the emissions ceiling will be set for the sector. This decision is expected to be announced before the end of this month.
“Farmers are being told that crazy targets of 22% to 30% are to be set for a reduction in agricultural emissions. Targets, if set at these levels, will decimate farmers, particularly those at the lower-income end,” Deputy Murphy said.
Fifty-six thousand “rural Ireland” jobs would be lost [according to KPMG] if such targets are set and imposed, she added.
“At a time when we face the worst cost-of-living crisis in living memory, and where we no longer produce sugar or mill flour, the Tánaiste’s party wants to put many farmers in rural Ireland on the breadline.”
But the Tánaiste pointed out that, compared to other sectors, the least was being asked of the agricultural one.
“As far as other sectors go, such as industry, transport or electricity, we are asking for the lowest emissions reductions from the agricultural sector because we recognise it is a special sector, is involved in food production, and needs to be specially treated,” he said.
That is why, he said, the lowest targets of any sector are being asked of the agricultural one.
“We are facing a climate crisis. It is real and is not made up. I will not repeat the word used by the deputy but it is certainly not fake. The climate crisis is very real and we see it all around us now.
“If we do not turn the tide on the climate crisis in this generation, there will not be any agriculture at all. That is the truth of it,” said the Tanaiste.