‘Bogey-man’ agriculture sector will play part in climate change fight – minister

The agriculture sector will play its part in the fight against climate change despite being considered the “bogey-man” in Ireland, the Agriculture Minister has said.

harlie McConalogue said every sector of the economy must do “the most it possibly can” to reach the targets set to reduce carbon emissions by 2030.

The Government is expected to sign off before the end of the month on legally binding targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that would require a cut to the national herd.

We are one of the most sustainable food-producing nations in this world but we want to get even better at that and we want to be the bestCharlie McConalogue

Ireland is committed to halving carbon emissions by 2030 and to net zero emissions by 2050.

“Every sector of the economy has to do the most it possibly can to reduce its emissions profile and to reach that 51% target that the Government has put in the climate action plan and put in the climate action Bill for an economy-wide reduction by 2030,” Mr McConalogue told RTE on Tuesday.

“And agriculture, food and the marine, which I represent, like every other sector, is willing and stepping up to the plate in relation to playing its part.”

The Fianna Fail TD for Donegal said he would continue to “back” Irish farm families while taking “every step” possible to reduce emissions.

Asked whether he would resist cattle numbers having to be reduced, Mr McConalogue said: “I will be seeking to strike that appropriate balance in relation to continue to back family farms to do food production but to take every step we possibly can to minimise emissions of how we produce that food.

“Right now you would be forgiven for thinking agriculture is a bogey-man in Ireland in relation to this. We are one of the most sustainable food-producing nations in this world but we want to get even better at that and we want to be the best.”

Mr McConalogue is set to meet the Environment Minister on Wednesday to discuss the matter before it goes to Cabinet next week.

Asked whether families may have to forego a second car in their family if emissions reductions are not met by the agriculture sector, Mr McConalogue said: “It’s not about that at all, it’s about every sector doing the most they possibly can.”

A reduction in the number of cars on the roads is among the measures aimed at cutting emissions that is being considered.

On Sunday, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said all three parties in the Government backed the Paris Climate Accord and predicted they would reach agreement for cuts in emissions in the agriculture sector.

The Climate Change Advisory Council has recommended carbon cuts of 22% to 30% from the agricultural sector.

Mr Ryan said he was confident that he could persuade his coalition partners to agree a 30% cut, adding that some of the measures envisaged for agriculture will involve reducing the number of animals.

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