‘Long-term restructuring and adaptation needed to meet carbon neutrality objectives’

The new Climate Action Plan commits the agri-sector to delivering 16.5-18.5 Mt CO2 eq. cumulative abatement from agriculture as well as achieving 26.8 Mt CO2 eq. abatement through land use, land use change and forestry actions from 2021 to 2030.

These were the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, last week during leaders’ questions in the Dáil when he was asked by Fine Gael’s deputy Joe Carey how Climate Action Plan 2019 will maintain a green image of agriculture in this country while meeting the national policy objective of carbon neutrality.

The minister said the plan identifies the long-term challenge for the agriculture sector to meet the national policy objective set out in the 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development.

He also pointed out that the approach would lean towards carbon neutrality and not compromise the nation’s capacity for sustainable food production.

“The plan notes that achieving this objective will involve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions as well as increased emissions removals,” he added.

“Given the contribution of agriculture to overall national GHG emissions, achieving this objective will be a significant challenge facing Irish agriculture over the coming decades.

In this context the plan separately commits to evaluating the changes which would be necessary in Ireland to achieve a net zero emissions target by 2050.

Minister Bruton, meanwhile, went on to say that in an effort to achieve the targets the plan sets out a range of actions to reduce emissions on farms, promote afforestation and diversification of land use, develop opportunities in the bio-economy and in the supply of substitutes for fossil fuels, promote better management of peatlands and soils, and develop clusters of best practice.

“Implementation of these actions will, collectively, help to further underpin the environmental credentials of the Irish agriculture sector and better position it to meet the evolving expectations of both domestic and international markets,” he added.

“This, in turn, will help prepare the sector for longer-term restructuring and adaptation that will be required to meet our carbon neutrality objectives.”