With EU framework on climate and energy for 2030 announced recently, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney recently outlined the measures his department is taking to mitigate climate change.

Legislation under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Bill provides that a sectoral roadmap for agriculture must be developed as part of a process leading to a National Low Carbon Roadmap.

According to the Minister the Department has initiated work on the preparation of the agriculture sectoral roadmap and facilitated an eight week public consultation that ran from September to November 2013.

He noted that: “My Department understands that there will be further public consultation on the draft National Low Carbon Roadmap in due course.”

The minister cited that it is envisaged that the first agriculture sectoral roadmap will examine and outline coherent and cost-effective measures that will seek to achieve sectoral emissions reduction initially in the period to 2020, while being mindful of the very real global food security imperative.

He added that the sectoral roadmap will also examine how the agriculture sector can adapt to the effects of climate change. It is likely that, in Ireland’s case, climate change will bring both opportunities and threats that must be considered by all actors involved.

Minister Coveney also outlined that that Department is also working with colleagues in Teagasc who have carried out very relevant research in relation to cost-effective agricultural mitigation measures.

He said: “These include the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for Irish Agriculture (September 2012) and the more recent study ‘Carbon-Neutrality as a horizon point for Irish Agriculture’ (December 2013) which aims to address and provide a scientific framework for the challenge posed in seeking an approach to carbon-neutrality in the longer term for agriculture.”

He minister noted that the Department of Agriculture will continue to work closely with other Departments and agencies in developing the technical capacity necessary to underpin evolution of national climate policy and the development of a definition for carbon neutrality in the agricultural sector.

He also noted that an environmental analysis of the impact of the Food Harvest 2020 targets has been undertaken. In early 2012 my Department procured the services of a team of independent consultants to carry out the work.

Initially the Department facilitated an eight week period of public consultation which ran from May to July 2012. All submissions received were forwarded to the consultants for consideration. When the draft final report was ready, a further eight week period of public consultation was facilitated on the draft, and this ran from September to November 2013.

The minister cited that again all submissions were forwarded to the consultants for consideration before finalising their report.

“In addition to the two periods of public consultation, officials of my Department met with representatives of Environmental Pillar on five occasions to discuss the progress of the analysis, which includes recommendations on mitigation. The consultants were present at three of these meetings. It is expected that the final report of this analysis will be available very shortly.”