IFA welcome Minister Coughlan's approach to climate change


IFA Climate Change Project Team Chairman, Sean O'Leary has welcomed Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan’s recent comments made at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security, regarding agriculture’s contribution to emissions reductions.

Mr. O’Leary said - “I concur with Minister Coughlan’s comments. If significant reductions in emissions were demanded from the agriculture sector, it would place enormous downward pressure on cattle numbers and have a damaging consequence for our rural community. Furthermore, reductions in emissions from agriculture may result in less commodities - such as beef and milk - being produced and would simply increase the carbon footprint by transferring production elsewhere. Clearly, such a proposal makes neither economic nor environmental sense at a time when it is estimated that global demand for food will increase by 50% within the next 20 years.”

The Climate Change Chairman added - “Agriculture has a definite role to play in the climate change debate and this includes growing carbon sequestering miscanthus, carbon neutral electricity production through anaerobic digestion, forestry planting and wind energy.”

Ireland’s post Kyoto objectives need to examine the sources from which greenhouse gas emissions are growing. These include big industries like ESB, CRH and Bord na Mona - who all received free Carbon Credits paid for by the taxpayer, while emissions from their sectors increased dramatically.

Sean O’Leary concluded - “Greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 25% in Ireland since 1990, led by the transport sector, which has increased by 163%. Emissions from the energy sector have increased by 32% and the industrial sector by 23%. Clearly, policy-makers have to tackle these growth areas if the fight against climate change is to succeed.

"Agricultural emissions have reduced by 3% over the same period. These reductions have occurred without any allocation to agriculture by the EPA of the carbon sink, which occurs in forestry and other land uses.”