Cork IFA opposes ‘lazy narrative’ on emissions targets; Green Party say all sectors need to 'face up to reality'

Ministers are holding talks to finalise carbon emissions cuts expected from the agriculture sector by the end of the decade, at a yet undetermined point between 22% and 30%.
Cork IFA opposes ‘lazy narrative’ on emissions targets; Green Party say all sectors need to 'face up to reality'

A CORK Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA) representative has said that the “lazy narrative” around farmers looking for special treatment in terms of lower emissions targets “doesn’t have any real backing”, as tense talks continue this week to reach a final figure for the agriculture sector. Stock image. Picture Denis Minihane.

A CORK representative in the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said the “lazy narrative” around farmers looking for special treatment in terms of lower emissions targets “doesn’t have any real backing”, as Government talks failed to reach a final figure for the agriculture sector last evening.

Meanwhile, Cork Green Party members say it is time for all sectors to “face up to the reality” of climate change and Ireland’s commitments to emissions reductions.

Ministers held talks last night to try to finalise carbon emissions cuts expected from the agriculture sector by the end of the decade, at a yet undetermined point between 22% and 30%.

Farming representatives and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue favour a cut closer to 22%, while Environment Minister Eamon Ryan and the Greens were pushing for closer to 30%.

IFA rep for Cork Central, Conor O’Leary, said that how emissions sectors are divided means that farmers don’t get credit for reductions in their energy and transport emissions. He said that this creates an overly narrow focus on agricultural emissions, that are “unachievable” without impacting farming incomes and jobs around the country.

As about a third of all diary output comes from Cork, he added that there would be a huge impact on farmers and those supplying services to farms in Cork if the industry had to be scaled back.

Mr O’Leary said that the IFA are seeking an emissions target of around 22%, with recognition of further energy reducing measures taken by the agricultural sector, which could reduce emissions by a further 5-8%, not counted directly as reductions in agricultural emissions but “getting all parties where they need to go”.

“Our suggestion is that it could be 22% plus what we can do on our energy and fuel, the mindset has to be that it’s the combination of all of what we do,” he said.

He said that this nuance is left out of the “lazy narrative” that farmers are looking for emissions targets lower than other sectors.

Green Party

Meanwhile, Cork Green party representatives say that we should be reaching for the upper limit of a near 30% reduction in agricultural emissions.

Cobh Green Party Councillor Alan O’Connor said it’s time to agree on a figure and stop “hitting the snooze button”.

“Government has signed up to an agreement to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030, and while it was easy to agree to the numbers, now comes the tough stuff. Agriculture is no different from other sectors of the economy, they all have their targets,” he said.

“I’m really hopeful we’ll agree that higher emissions limit, because if we don’t get the 30% for agriculture then it’ll be even more difficult for other industries to take on that burden,” he added.

Green party councillor for Cork East, Liam Quaide, said that pitting small farmers against environmentalists is not going to help in achieving overall targets.

“It’s deeply frustrating to see backbench Fine Gael TD’s and Senators’ attempts to distort the reality we all need to face by pitting environmentalists against ‘family farms’.

“Our current model of agriculture is not just unsustainable for our climate — it has impoverished our small farmers, wrecked wildlife habitats and polluted our waterways,” he said.

“A dwindling number of farmers are in increasing levels of financial debt, under pressure to expand evermore. We need to pay farmers properly to look after biodiversity, and farm sustainably,” he added.

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