This refusal to be honest with farmers is putting them in a very vulnerable position

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue is in denial about the contribution agriculture will have to make to our carbon budgets, according to Social Democrats Climate Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore.

“Ranges for sectoral emissions targets were published last November with the Climate Action plan. That was eight months ago and we still don’t know what the precise target will be in any sector.

“Publication of these legally-binding limits has been continually delayed – primarily because of a rear-guard action by Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue to prevent agriculture from doing its fair share.

“On Morning Ireland this morning, the Minister insisted that every sector would have to do “the most it possibly can do to reduce its emissions profile” but then refused to admit the logical consequence of that position – that agriculture will have to reduce its emissions by 30pc.

“The climate crisis is an existential threat and every sector, including agriculture, will have to reach the upper limit of their sectoral emissions targets if we are to have any hope of meeting our climate action obligations. The Minister may be in denial – but the reality is that Ireland will not be able to reach its legally binding emissions targets unless agriculture plays its part.

“As it stands, the upper limit of 30pc for agriculture is already significantly less than the demand being placed on other sectors – which have upper limits ranging from 41pc to 81pc. In the context of agriculture being our biggest emitter, responsible for 37pc of our greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, the upper limit of 30pc is the only credible option.

“It’s time that politicians, like the Minister, stopped pretending that significant reductions in agricultural emissions can be made in the absence of a reduction in livestock numbers over time.

“This refusal to be honest with farmers is putting them in a very vulnerable position. Farming, as an industry, is the most exposed to the climate crisis – and has the most to lose if we fail to meet our targets and our climate and biodiversity changes irrevocably.

“It is time for the government must stop dithering and delaying and show some respect for farmers. They must now engage with them in a transparent way, provide clarity about what is required and ensure that supports are in place to assist farmers with the necessary transition.

“The government must put its money where its mouth is and support farmers to make this crucial change.”

19 July, 2022


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