Farming causes 32% of greenhouse gas emissions

The agriculture sector is responsible for almost one-third of Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This is according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) State of the Environment report, published every four years.

“In Ireland, the agriculture sector was directly responsible for 32.2% of national GHG emissions in 2014, mainly methane from livestock, and nitrous oxide due to the use of nitrogen fertiliser and manure management,” stated the EPA.

This figure is released as a documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, continues to gain popularity around the world.

Seen as the follow-up to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary examines if animal agriculture is the biggest cause of climate change.

“Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean ‘dead zones,’ and virtually every other environmental ill.

“Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged,” reads the documentary’s website.

The feature-length film was released exclusively on Netflix in September 2015.

From an Irish point of view, these GHG emissions from the agricultural sector are included in our EU target agreement to reduce overall emissions and are therefore not treated separately.

“These direct emissions are accountable under the Effort Sharing Decision and are included in Ireland’s targets for 2020 emissions reduction,” states the EPA.

The Effort Sharing Decision establishes binding annual GHG targets for EU member states for the period 2013–2020. However, the EPA said Ireland is “struggling” to meet these targets.

“The recent bulletin on GHG Emissions Projections to 2020 noted that the challenges associated with implementing these measures (to lower emissions) should not be underestimated.

“Increasing agricultural emissions at a time when Ireland is struggling to meet 2020 and 2030 emissions reduction targets may place a burden on the wider economy,” the EPA said.


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