Hedgerows to be included in calculation of Ireland’s work on emissions from 2021

While hedgerows are currently not accounted for in relation to the calculation of Ireland’s compliance with emissions targets to 2020, from 2021 onward they will be, according to Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton.

Minister Bruton was responding to a parliamentary question on the matter from independent TD for Laois/Offaly Carol Nolan.

Asked by deputy Nolan if 6% of hedgerows will be included in calculations relating to carbon sequestration figures, the minister replied:

Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), are reported in Ireland’s National Inventory Report.

This, he noted, is prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and submitted to the EU and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change annually.

“LULUCF includes activities associated with forestry, croplands, grasslands, wetlands, settlements and other lands.

“Hedgerows, as landscape features within the cropland and grassland categories, can form part of the emission and removal estimates for land-use categories.

“Emissions and removals of greenhouse gases associated with land-based activities are reported in a different category to those associated with agricultural activity, in line with international reporting guidelines.

While such emissions are not currently accounted for in relation to the calculation of compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets in the period to 2020, from 2021 onwards these emissions will be integrated into the EU framework for compliance with national emissions targets.

“It is, therefore, essential that Ireland has robust policies in place to manage emissions and enhance removals from LULUCF.”

The minister noted that the EPA has funded and continues to fund research projects related to the sequestration potential of lands, including specifically into hedgerows.

“As with any LULUCF category, the methodology must capture the emissions or removals associated with human activity compared with a reference or base year.

“The EPA is also currently developing a national land-use map for reporting on land based activities under the LULUCF Regulation and, as part of this, is examining mechanisms to assist in the development of estimates of the carbon stock associated with hedgerows,” the minister concluded.

Commenting on the minister’s response, deputy Nolan said:

This is a welcome development and one that finally concedes to the common sense view that many of us advocated around how the carbon sequestration methodology must be expanded.

“We must now ensure that the land map that is being currently developed by the EPA is ready for the start of 2021 – so that a more accurate reflection on the role of rural Ireland in sequestration emerges,” the TD concluded.