Climate change proposals - Why pay to stop farm pollution?

The reaction to the weekend recommendations on the delivery of climate change policy — or the lack of it — from the Citizens’ Assembly was a mix of dismay and derision.

Many people were dismayed that we still have so much ground to make up after a decade or more of promises to end unsustainable behaviour.

Others reacted with derision which might be better seen as fear because some of our everyday practices are so damaging that unless we end them we will be — properly — regarded as a rogue nation on climate change.

We will also face significant EU fines, wasting resources that could be far better used elsewhere.

It says something pretty unattractive about us that it takes the threat of multimillion EU sanctions for us to do the right thing and follow the lead of other small European countries like Denmark and Scotland that have done so much to mend their ways.

As well as advocating higher carbon taxes the assembly suggested farmers should be incentivised to reduce the impact agriculture has on the environment.

In a country where farming still holds such sway, it may be regarded as almost treasonable to ask why an incentive to do the right, pressing thing should be necessary.

After all, if any other business causes pollution it is taken to court and fined. European agriculture is subsidised through to CAP to the tune of €58bn each year — 38% of the EU budget — so it seems fair to ask why a carrot for that sector but a stick for others?

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