Phil Hogan: Agri-sector will help meet climate-change targets

Ireland’s EU commissioner, the former Fine Gael minister Phil Hogan, has said that our agriculture sector would “play its part” in the country meeting its climate-change targets.

Phil Hogan: Agri-sector will help meet climate-change targets

Speaking at an EU commission lunch in Dublin yesterday, he said that despite media commentary, emissions from agriculture had fallen, whereas transport emissions had increased, without mention.

But in a hard-hitting and wide-ranging address, Mr Hogan said the migrant crisis was the “greatest challenge facing Europe since the Second World War”.

“The biggest challenge since the Second World War is the migration crisis, the refugee crisis, and you don’t know where it is going to end,” he said.

Mr Hogan said that while many at the top level of the European Union were seeking solutions, there was “no unanimity about what solutions are needed”.

He said that the EU would spend €9.2bn on tackling the migrant issue to try and “stem the flow” of people entering Europe.

The former environment minster also warned that the crisis would last for “many years”.

“But this is going to be with us for many many years to come, regrettably, and the displacement of persons is going to be an issue for many years to come,” he said.

Mr Hogan also warned that EU citizens were facing degradation of their civil rights, as leaders attempted to respond to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Mr Hogan recalled how “stark and eerie” it was in Brussels, in the wake of the attacks, in which 130 people were killed. He said people’s rights would be reduced.

“It was very stark, when you see we are denigrating the free movement of our people. We are making certain changes in law to ensure we have better sharing of information,” he said.

“Indeed, today, the Schengen area is under scrutiny, from that point of view, to putting in place external controls, otherwise the public will not accept that people coming in here for legitimate reasons are going to be protected,” he said.

Mr Hogan said that while a closing of the Schengen area was being contemplated, it would be a great pity were that temporary measure to become permanent.

“So, there is a temporary suspension of the Schengen area being contemplated, but Schengen should be seen as a very important pillar of the EU, and the euro. It would be a very great pity were anything to happen to that, in the long-term suspension or termination of the Schengen,” he added.

Mr Hogan also said he did not think the United States or China would deliver on the ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions which they committed to last week at a major climate-change conference in Paris.

“Europe is taking a very strong position to tackle countries that are good on rhetoric, but not necessarily good on follow-through.

“It will be interesting to see if the rhetoric of the US and China, who have promoted themselves as being very strong on very ambitious, legally-binding targets, that they will follow through on them, and I don’t expect that they will.”

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