Ireland has a comparative advantage in grass-based carbon efficient livestock production. The EU Commission JRC report (2010) found that Ireland is the most carbon efficient producer in the EU per unit of dairy production, and the fifth most carbon efficient producer per unit of beef. However, inherent challenges remain for the sector in terms of contributing to Ireland’s climate change and renewable energy targets.
In this regard, my Department is currently developing an environmental sustainability roadmap for the agri-food sector to ensure that the future development of agriculture and the land-use sector, including forestry, will be built upon and contribute fairly to Ireland’s climate and energy targets. This roadmap will be published later this year and will form a key element of the 2030 strategy. In parallel, my Department is also working on the development of Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan, which in line with the EU Commission’s proposals, will recognise that greater environmental and climate ambition is required.
Meanwhile, my Department continues to review options that will enable our farmers to transition to a low carbon economy. The recently published Teagasc report “An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030” is key to informing the type of measures we need to implement to continue to reduce the carbon footprint of the sector. My Department’s approach is to focus on driving down the emissions intensity of Irish production through the deployment of innovative and efficient practices at farm level, combined with the practical application of emerging scientific knowledge.
The Minister for Finance announced in Budget 2019 that he intends to put in place a long-term trajectory for Carbon Tax increases out to 2030, in line with the recommendations of the Climate Change Advisory Council and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.
I continue to liaise with colleagues across Government on policy approaches to climate action, in particular on the development of a new “All of Government Climate Plan” led by my colleague Minister Bruton.