Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Questions (334)

Thomas Pringle


334. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he and his officials and all State bodies with functions in relation to agricultural policy and advice accept and endorse the findings of the IPCC fifth Assessment Report, Working Group I in relation to the emissions metric values used to describe the global warming impact of methane, CH4; his views on and if he endorses the use of global warming potential to capture the global warming potential of methane; his views on the statement (details supplied) in AR5; his further views on whether the failure to address methane emissions in agriculture here in the short-term means that more stringent measures will have to be deployed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in other sectors of the economy instead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22665/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department recognises the importance of global consensus provided by the various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We also acknowledge that that rising concentrations of methane are a significant driver of global warming. However it is also important to understand that while the Global Warming Potential (GWP) was introduced in the IPCC First Assessment Report, the report also used the metric to illustrate the difficulties in comparing components with differing physical properties using a single metric.

The 5th assessment report states, “There are significant uncertainties related to metrics, and the magnitudes of the uncertainties differ across metric type and time horizon”. Therefore careful consideration must be given to the metric used. The IPCC’s special report on 1.5 degrees further highlights the importance of reaching and sustaining net zero global anthropogenic CO2 emissions and declining net non-CO2 radiative forcing would halt anthropogenic global warming on multi decadal time scales. As a result national policy seeks to divide fossil CO2, the key driver of climate change, from other non-CO2 gases and the managed natural carbon cycle.

Every sector, including agriculture, will need to do its part in contributing to the Paris agreement goals and stakeholders in each sector will equally be challenges in addressing these emissions. Where zero emissions technologies are available they need to be implemented as soon as possible. Every effort will also need to be made to reduce the impact of sustainable food systems on the climate while still ensuring food production objectives are met.

In response to meeting our Paris Agreement targets, the Government is currently developing an “All of Government Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption” to supplement and expand upon the ambition set out in existing plans with a view to addressing the 2030 climate targets in particular with this process led by my colleague, Minister Bruton.