27th October 2014
ICSA President Patrick Kent has said he welcomes the “more pragmatic agreement” reached by European leaders to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years. “The key point is that there appears to be a greater understanding that agriculture is unique and that climate change goals have to reflect the urgent importance of food security,” said Mr Kent.
Mr Kent noted that “the previous EU deal agreed in 2008 would have been cripplingly onerous on Ireland, due to its high baseline figure for farming, and would have severely restricted Ireland’s ability to sustainably increase food production over the coming years. The significance of agriculture in Ireland is unique among EU states and a ‘one size fits all’ model on emissions reductions simply won’t work.”
“From a broad European perspective, there is no point in moving quality food production outside the EU to other less carbon-efficient forms of farming in other parts of the globe.”
“This new deal hopefully represents a much more common sense approach by EU leaders who now seem to recognise that agriculture and land use needs to be dealt with separately in the global drive to address climate change. It is important that sequestration through forestry will be now recognised as part of agriculture’s contribution on climate change.”
Mr Kent was keen to highlight that given its predominantly grass-based system for livestock rearing, Ireland has a clear advantage in being able to produce beef and lamb at a lower equivalent carbon emission per kg of end product when compared to other countries within Europe and beyond.
He continued, “It was a wise decision to avoid establishing country-specific emission reduction targets, as EU member states can now focus on reducing emissions where it is most appropriate for their own unique sectoral makeup. The challenge is now to ensure that any new carbon accounting regime fully recognises all the key aspects of the Irish agricultural landscape, which not only produces food, but also sequesters carbon in its pasture, peatlands and farm forestry.”