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New Thinking for Agricultural Emissions Policies

11 June 2012

IRELAND - The ESRI has published its Environment Review 2012, which finds that if we are to meet the targets for increased agricultural production under Food Harvest 2020, Ireland will struggle to meet its emissions obligations.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association agrees with the finding of the Economic and Social Research Institute that a new deal is needed on agricultural emissions targets for Europe.

The ESRI has published its Environment Review 2012, which finds that if we are to meet the targets for increased agricultural production under Food Harvest 2020, Ireland will struggle to meet its emissions obligations.

ICSA President Gabriel Gilmartin said, “on the one hand, Food Harvest 2020 says we must strive to dramatically increase agricultural production – but on the other, we are expected to reduce the emissions from farming activities. The two targets are plainly incompatible.”

As a whole, Ireland is supposed to reduce its emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2020. ICSA is firmly of the opinion that this is much too onerous due to the fact that agriculture as an industry is proportionately far more significant here than in other EU countries.

Mr Gilmartin said: “I am very much in agreement with the ESRI’s suggestion that a new mechanism for managing agricultural emissions in Ireland is needed. A blunt focus on emissions reduction in Ireland could lead to more production being moved overseas, and Ireland will lose the potential to expand output and create jobs.

"If this was to happen, the environmental benefits may be less than if production was kept within the EU, where cross-compliance and other measures ensure higher environmental standards. New thinking is needed on the climate and emissions policies imposed on the sector.”

Irish Farmers' Association Climate Change spokesman Jer Bergin has urged the Government to act on the ESRI Report, which highlights Ireland’s comparative advantage in producing dairy and beef in an emission-efficient way.

He said: “This is a significant contribution to the debate about climate change, and a welcome one, as it recognises the sustainable nature of our farming practices. The low-carbon model of our agri-food sector and the benefits it brings to the wider economy must be at the centre of future policy development.”

Jer Bergin said: “The Environment Review from the ESRI correctly identifies the need for a special case to be made at EU level for managing agricultural emissions, and this must be secured before the Government considers any legislation. The ESRI Report endorses IFA’s view that displacing production here would move it overseas to regions such as South America, without any global environmental benefit. It is important that our potential to increase output and employment is not undermined by any onerous legislation.”

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