The Government says it will work with other EU states and the European Commission on the creation of an alternative regulatory regime for agricultural emissions, to help address the challenge of meeting increasing food demand while contributing to climate commitments, and avoiding the off-shoring of agricultural activity to less carbon-efficient countries.
The alternative regulatory regime could be an emissions trading system, which is already used for reducing the EU’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions from power stations, industrial plants, and airlines.
However, according to the Government’s recently published plan to tackle climate breakdown, an alternative regulatory regime for agricultural emissions could only be successful if Ireland is seen to be credible on its climate obligations more generally, which it is not at present.
Therefore, such an ambition depends in the first instance on implementation of the plan to tackle climate breakdown, which has identified 34 actions for Irish agriculture’s transition to a low-carbon economy, by reducing emissions about 10% relative to 2017, by 2030.
The plan has a three-pillar approach to carbon neutrality without comprising sustainable food production:
The plan is informed by Teagasc’s work on identifying the most cost-effective actions to reduce agricultural emissions.
These actions include efficiency measures such as the dairy EBI programme, and technical measures such as changes in fertiliser type or low emissions slurry spreading, as well as forestry and bio-economy measures.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said:
They are deepening engagement with farmers and other stakeholders to promote the necessary deployment of new technologies and changes in farming practices; improving nitrogen use efficiency such as widespread adoption of low emissions slurry spreading or introduction of clover in grassland swards; and continuing support for research and innovation such as novel feed additives in grass-based production systems.
Mr Creed said: “I will work to ensure that the next Common Agriculture Policy is aligned with this ambition, and that climate action is mainstreamed in the development of our CAP strategic plan to ensure the delivery of this target.
The minister welcomed the very strong interest in the Low Emissions Slurry Spreading (LESS) measure of the TAMS farm modernisation scheme, with over 2,000 farmers approved to purchase machinery.
Over 850 applicants have already been paid over €10m under the LESS Scheme.
In addition, a further 495 young farmers have invested in this equipment bringing the total spend under TAMS II on LESS to date to €15.2m.
“The adoption of dribble bar, shallow injection and trailing shoe technology is making an important contribution in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the Irish livestock sector,” said Mr Creed.