Greens list four climate change challenges for Ireland as farmers accuse party of 'cheap shots'

Greens list four climate change challenges for Ireland as farmers accuse party of 'cheap shots'

The Green Party and environmental NGO BirdWatch Ireland have called for major action after the latest UN climate report.

However, the Irish Famers' Association (IFA) is not in agreement with the Greens.

The Green Party said Ireland needs a land-use plan as the new report shows that how we are currently using our land is leading to climate breakdown.

The Green Party listed four challenges Ireland will need to overcome on the back of the Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC) report from the UN.

"Reading the IPCC's advice in Ireland, we face four major challenges; diversifying our agricultural system away from over specialisation on beef and dairy; protecting, rewetting and restoring our bogs; restoring our native woodlands and developing continuous cover forestry, and ensuring that we don't cause environmental damage and greenhouse gas emissions in other countries by using biomass grown there," said a spokesman for the party.

However, the IFA reacted strongly to some of these recommendations, accusing the Greens of attacking farmers and taking "cheap shots".

“The Green Party’s continuous attack on our national herd lacks climate credibility," said Thomas Cooney, IFA's environment chairman.

"Cheap shots at Ireland’s dairy and beef farmers demonstrates ignorance of the fact that demand for protein-rich foods produced in Ireland will increase."

"Therefore, climate advocates have two choices: either back Ireland’s grass-based, carbon-friendly model of food production, or support the on-going clear-felling of the Amazonian and other forested regions to create new croplands to meet the increasing demand for food," he added.

Pippa Hackett, Green Party agriculture spokeswoman and organic beef and sheep farmer, said: "One would have to wonder just which farmers the IFA is representing?

"The Green Party has consistently considered the viability of the small farm family first and foremost, and the future of such farms will depend more now than ever on environmental measures and outcomes, and diversity is the key to this.

"Yet the IFA continues to repeat the rhetoric of 'feeding the world' to defend a commodity-based model of dairy and beef production, which is increasing Ireland’s emissions and setting us up for billion euro costs over the next decade. To continue to pitch our small family farmers against global giants of beef and milk production is reckless, to say the least," she added.

Also commenting on the report was Oonagh Duggan, who is head of advocacy for BirdWatch Ireland, an organisation which has worked extensively on agricultural policy.

Ms Duggan called for radical action on the back of the IPCC report, saying: "We’ve known for years that the way we use our lands impacts on birds and biodiversity, farmland birds have declined, several are red- and amber-listed.

"We need to change how we farm, we need to have agricultural policies that work in harmony with nature."

"The intensification model that we’ve seen is working in the wrong direction, we need to radically change how we are using the land."

She cited the rapid decline of our wild bee population as a major indicator of change, saying: "One-third of our wild bees are threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat, habitats being lost to intensification."

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