By PA Reporters
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said “it is not easy” to decide what level of climate emissions targets should be imposed on each sector, after the three coalition leaders failed to reach an agreement on Tuesday night.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet on Wednesday morning, Martin said that the challenge in relation to agriculture is to acknowledge the greater part it will play in the energy sector in the future, and “to reconcile the importance of food production system supply with the climate change issue which is undoubtedly there”.
“So the Government would obviously like to see agreement on this, but there are challenges, it is not easy, but we are determined to get this resolved and suffice to say that all sectors of society and all sectors of our economy including agriculture will have to make that contribution. And then, once we set targets, focus will have to switch on delivery.
“It’s one thing to set targets, that’s in some respect a bit easier than realising the targets over the next number of years.
“What we’re trying to do here is avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
"We’re not going to avoid climate change now, we can see that with the heatwaves during the summer, but what we can do for future generations and for our children’s children, we can limit those consequences.
“What the difficulties reflect in reaching an agreement, they reflect the significance of the challenges. I think it’s important that we get a resolution, but that we do it in a way that facilitates delivery down the road and real momentum in relation to climate change.”
Micheal Martin added that the contribution of agriculture to the energy sector in the future “will be very significant”.
“And all of that has to be, in fairness, taken into account, because there tends to be a sense that agriculture isn’t making the same contribution as other sectors.
“It’s making a very significant contribution already, and will into the future.”
Micheál Martin said emissions ceilings will present “challenges” to transport, energy and agriculture, but that “all sectors will have to stretch themselves” as part of tackling climate change.
“This Government has set new targets, set a new legislative framework to deal with climate change across all sectors and all sectors will have to stretch themselves.
“And the challenges in these ceilings will be very very significant indeed. From transport, to energy, to agriculture. I would have to say in fairness to agriculture, already the targets that have been set are very very challenging, and will be challenging.”
“And we’re looking at ways as to how in all sectors, including agriculture, we can stretch those targets and ensure a meaningful contribution all round.”
Meanwhile, the Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan said that, as science continues to evolve, the urgency and the need to act fast on climate change “gets clearer by the day”.
“We continue to represent the scientific view, the view that we cannot afford to wait, can’t afford inaction, that’s going to be good for our country to make the moves we need to make,” he added.
“That’s something we share with our government colleagues, that doesn’t belong to any party or any person, it’s working out the mechanics of it. It’s tricky, but I am hopeful we will get there.”
He said: “We need to act fast. We have a national climate dialogue today where we are talking to stakeholders from all sets of sectors in the economy and young people.
“Transport, I think, is more difficult because we have set patterns over 50 years that is going to be hard to change, but agriculture is also difficult.”
Ryan said he thinks that the Government can come to an agreement today on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the agriculture sector.