The concept of sustainable intensification is totally at odds with Irish agriculture’s global warming commitments, according to An Taisce’s Charles Stanley-Smith.

“Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney seems to believe that the projected increases in Irish cow numbers can be offset by an enlarged forestry sector,” he said.

“Yes, there is evidence that forestry can act as a carbon sump. But this all depends on where the trees are planted. Forestry and woodland development on peat and high carbon soils makes no sense at all.

“In such instances the carbon released to the atmosphere during the establishment period may not be counter balanced by the sequestration impact of the trees, once the woodlands become fully established.

“New woodlands must be established on mineral soils. But additional tree planting will count for nothing if Ireland fails to prevent the wide spread burning of peat.

One acre of bog and contains 20 times more Carbon than the equivalent area of rain forest.”

Stanley-Smith said that consumers around the world are becoming more carbon conscious in terms of the foods they consume.

“This is bad news for beef and other meats. Ireland is extremely carbon efficient when it comes to beef production. But this will count for nothing unless other red meat producing countries cut back on their output.

“The EU represents Ireland’s interests at the ongoing climate change summit in Paris. We already know that Ireland will not meet any of its current climate change targets for 2020. And agriculture is included within this list.

“Our cause was not helped by the reported dichotomy in the formal presentation given by Enda Kenny and his comments to members of the press attending Paris.

“Telling the world that Ireland is committed to playing its part in meeting global warming targets, on the one hand, and then briefing journalists to the effect that Ireland does not have the money to make this happen, has been greeted with bemusement by An Taisce.”