Martin says farming, energy and transport must change to fight climate change

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that Ireland has no choice when it comes to climate change,“it will catch up with us if we don’t do something”
Martin says farming, energy and transport must change to fight climate change

Vivienne Clarke

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that Ireland has no choice when it comes to climate change,“it will catch up with us if we don’t do something”.

Everyone had to deal with the realities, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Farming will have to change, energy will have to change and transport will have to change, he added.

Ireland now had an opportunity to work with the farming sector to make sure there would be a sustainable future for young farmers, he said, but warned that everyone had to deal with the realities of climate change and “how much the land can take”.

“We have no choice here. Climate change will catch up with us. It will catch up with our farming. It will catch up with our agriculture if we don't take action."

There needed to be a switch to giving incentives to farmers in the form of income to protect biodiversity, that would encourage them to plant native tree species and maintain clean waterways. He acknowledged this could mean farmers being paid more to produce less.

New technology could help reduce emissions in food production, added Mr Martin, and he hoped to see more focus on such a strategy.

'Scaremongering'

The Taoiseach warned against “scaremongering” and said he did not accept a report in the Irish Farmers Journal which said that emission cuts of 21 per cent could result in the loss of 100,000 jobs.

There had been headlines in recent weeks creating the impression that such goals were outlandish, but “we have no choice here”, he said.

When asked about data centres the Taoiseach said that there would have to be modifications and a balance could be achieved by introducing mitigating measures which would entail carbon reductions.

“We cannot end up with too many of them” he added.

Mr Martin said that the Cabinet subcommittee on climate change would meet on Wednesday to clear up any lingering issues “there are not too many left”. There would be some “fine-tuning”.

The Climate Action Plan was necessary, he said. White it would be challenging, if nothing was done there would be an impact on economic activity. The plan would contain sector by sector details outlining the measures required in the next decade to achieve the target of reducing greenhouse emissions by 51 per cent by 2030 to be climate neutral by 2050.

Ireland had missed targets in the past, but the passing of the climate law meant legal imperatives had been set that this Government and future governments must achieve, he said.

Carbon tax

Mr Martin said that pursuing the unpopular carbon tax approach discouraged the use of fossil fuels and also provided funding for schemes such as retrofitting of homes and more environmentally friendly farming.

When asked about reports that Ireland was on track to increase its emissions this year, the Taoiseach said that could be true and explained that many of the steps that will be taken soon will not have an impact until the latter half of the next decade.

Mr Martin said there needed to be buy-in from the general public and the Government needed to do more in terms of communicating the message. Young people were “absolutely committed to this” and should be “our inspiration”.

The Government would have to engage more with different sectors “about the reality of this” and the need to take action. This would require an educational process and working with people to bring them around.

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