The findings of the report on the “Evaluation study of the impact of the CAP on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions” referred to by the Deputy are consistent with the higher ambition on environmental and climate action which are part of the new CAP post-2020 proposals, where it is proposed 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.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has made and will continue to make an increasingly significant contribution to the environmental sustainability of the Irish agriculture. The report shows Ireland as having the second highest “climate relevant” spending under CAP, when compared to other Member States, demonstrating our commitment and determination to meet the challenge of climate change. Despite uncertainties over the level of future CAP budgets, compounded by on-going Brexit negotiations, the Irish government remains committed to sustaining a strong environmental focus and further mainstreaming climate action under any future CAP programme.
While the mitigation potential for agriculture is limited, agriculture can and must play a key role in contributing to Ireland’s climate change and energy targets in the years ahead. Towards this end, one of the positives that can be taken from this report is the high level of Knowledge Transfer actions which Ireland supports under the current CAP programme when compared to other Member States. These Knowledge Transfer actions along with a strong Farm Advisory Service (also supported under CAP) will allow Irish agriculture to quickly respond to the future expected consequences of climate change.
Mitigation of emissions from the agriculture sector will depend on encouraging behavioural change. Appropriate measures under a new CAP will provide a key vehicle for incentivising such change. Any national CAP Plan will be informed to a significant extent by the need to encourage farmers to engage in climate change mitigation activities.