Conflicting views persist as climate targets deferred


Common sense must prevail when it comes to emission reduction targets for the agriculture sector, insists ICSA.

“A target of 22% is the absolute maximum the agriculture sector can bear; anything higher would be akin to pressing the self-destruct button on the sector,” claimed President of the ICSA, Dermot Kelleher.

The government previously outlined that the emission reduction target for the agriculture sector would be set within the range of 22-30%. That specific target was due to be decided by cabinet this week, however, with Environment Minister Eamon Ryan and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue reportedly unable to agree, the issue has been deferred while negotiations continue.

“We cannot emphasise strongly enough the need for balance in decision making. Ireland’s vital national interests are dependent on getting the right balance between food security, energy security and climate change targets. Equally, rural communities are totally dependent on a vibrant agriculture sector in both social and economic terms. This cannot be sacrificed for the sake of kudos from the EU Commission at a time when large EU member states such as Germany are ramping up coal production in light of the war in Ukraine.”

Balance was on the minds of Friends of the Earth in light of the ongoing negotiations between ministers.

The chief executive, Oisín Coghlan said: "Agriculture was already given the least ambitious range of 22% to 30%, compared to an average of 57% for the other sectors. But if Minister McConalogue secures a 22% target the rest of the Government will have to deliver cuts across the rest of the economy approaching 70%, which is so far-fetched that it loses credibility and power."

Meanwhile Mr Kelleher described farmer protests in the Netherlands as "a wake-up call" for all EU governments that an unfair burden being imposed on a narrow sector of society is unacceptable.

"It is not acceptable to destroy entire communities nor is it acceptable to use draconian measures that in the end, will simply outsource production to countries outside the EU.”

“We must get this right; It makes no sense to set targets that are unattainable, and it makes no sense to alienate tens of thousands of farmers in the process. All of us are in this climate emergency together and that should mean everybody making pragmatic decisions together. This is not what is happening however, and farmers are increasingly frustrated by attempts to force an unworkable green agenda on them that fails to consider the real economic and social impacts.”