Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (498, 500)

Noel Rock


498. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has read the third Climate Change Advisory Council annual review (details supplied); the actions that will be implemented to address the concerns raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37480/19]

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Noel Rock


500. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount by which the national cattle herd must be cut to reach emission reduction targets; if this is a policy option under consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37483/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 498 and 500 together.

The All-of-Government Plan to tackle climate breakdown identifies a series of actions for the agriculture, forestry and land-use sector that ensure a fair contribution from agriculture and land use to our transition to a low carbon economy and society. This reflects our three-pillar policy approach to achieving carbon neutrality without comprising sustainable food production.

My Department acknowledges that the target set for the sector to reduce emissions from 20.2 Mt CO2eq to less than 19 Mt CO2 eq by 2030 is extremely ambitious and not without its challenges but the Teagasc MACC illustrates a suite of actions that provide opportunity for emissions reductions. These include both efficiency measures such as the Dairy EBI programme and technical measures such as changes in fertiliser type or low emissions slurry spreading as well as a series of forestry and bioeceonomy measures.

To reach the target of 19 Mt CO2 eq in 2030 will require us to manage the emissions profile from the sector between now and then through mobilisation of as many of these actions as possible as early as possible with high rates of adoption across our 139,000 farms.

The Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) report further highlights the importance of early adoption by farmers of the measures outlined in the Climate Action Plan and illustrates the exposure that livestock numbers are open to if implementation of the Teagasc MACC is not achieved at a sufficient pace. Any hesitancy in take up of these actions will jeopardise our delivery on our committed targets and effectively bring the size of the national herd into focus. However, mechanisms such as the CAP reform, market incentives and regulation are all been investigated in full by all the relevant stakeholders, including industry, to mobilise the necessary actions as swiftly as possible.

The next Common Agriculture Policy will be fully aligned with this need to prioritise climate action. There will be a step up in environmental and climate delivery in the next CAP. The development of our CAP strategic plan will ensure the delivery of this target. A consultation process on the next CAP has already started and negotiations on CAP policy will intensify over the coming months.

We are also committed to developing opportunities for agriculture to provide bio-materials to replace high carbon products such as bioplastics, biopharma, biomass etc. In the future, farmers and fishermen will not only be suppliers of food but will also directly or indirectly through co-products or waste streams supply the building blocks for the bioeconomy.

Through a combination of these measures the agri-food sector will contribute significantly to the national ambition.

Ireland has an opportunity to become a global leader in actions on climate change. If we succeed in our ambition in this area, we will create a progressive and sustainable society that is not only economically successful but also offers an enhanced quality of lifestyle to society as a whole.