Thursday, 6 December 2018

Ceisteanna (43)

Clare Daly


43. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps his Department is taking to help to meet Ireland's carbon emission targets. [51074/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is actively engaged as part of the whole of Government approach to transitioning to a low-carbon, competitive, sustainable and climate resilient economy and society.

A key part of this cross-government approach has been the development of the National Mitigation Plan (NMP) to which my Department contributed a series of mitigation actions and measures for the agriculture and land use sector including forestry. These measures not only focus on the mitigation of greenhouse gases and improving resource efficiency but are also aimed at restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to building resilience of agricultural production systems (i.e. adaptation)

The long term vision for the agricultural sector is an approach to carbon neutrality which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production. Our policy approach is based on three principles:

i. Reducing agricultural emissions;

ii. Increasing carbon sequestration; and

iii. Displacing and substituting fossil fuel and energy intensive materials.

As part of my Department’s ongoing commitment, a number of additional measures and actions have been developed for the sector. By way of example, the recently announced Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot aims to improve the efficiency of production within the national beef herd. Other initiatives include Forestry Knowledge Transfer Groups; the Woodland Environmental Fund and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot.

In terms of sequestration, €106 million has been made available in 2018 under the Forestry Programme to support afforestation and other forest initiatives with significant improvements in grant and premium rates under the agroforestry and forestry for fibre options. Afforestation and forests also play a key role in replacing energy intensive materials and providing sustainable renewable biomass to the energy sector.

Higher ambition on environmental and climate action are part of the new CAP, post 2020, and it is expected that 40% of the overall CAP budget will contribute to climate action. This will require farmers to achieve a higher level of environmental ambition through both mandatory and incentive-based measures.

Whilst the mitigation potential for agriculture is indeed limited, agriculture is also part of the solution and can and must play a key role in contributing to Ireland's climate change and energy targets in the year ahead.