The All-of Government Plan to tackle climate breakdown sets out a target of cumulative abatement of between 16.5 and 18.5 Mt CO2 eq over the period 2021 to 2030 for the agriculture, sector. In addition, the sector will also deliver an additional 26.8 Mt CO2 eq through better land use management such as afforestation and improved management of peaty grasslands.
The plan identifies 34 actions for the sector that will contribute to our transition to a low carbon economy and society across abatement measures, carbon sequestration measures and displacement of fossil fuels and reflects our three pillar policy approach to achieving carbon neutrality without comprising sustainable food production of:
1. Reducing agricultural emissions;
2. Increasing carbon sequestration; and
3. Displacing and substituting fossil fuel and energy intensive materials.
These actions in this plan are informed by the recent Teagasc Marginal Cost Abatement Curve report (MACC) - An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030 as an identifiable suite of actions for delivery. These actions 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 bio economy measures.
Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACCs) are very beneficial in terms of identifying the most cost-effective ways of meeting the targets both within and between sectors and also in identifying options that cost less than the marginal benefit from abatement. MACCs provide a useful framework to engage stakeholders on opportunities to reduce emissions.
While the target for the agriculture sector in the All-of-Government Plan to tackle climate breakdown is challenging, immediate action and early adoption is key and there are three important actions that can be advanced immediately.
- Deepening engagement with farmers and other stakeholders to promote the necessary deployment of new technologies and changes in farming practices.
- Improving nitrogen use efficiency such as widespread adoption of low emissions slurry spreading or introduction of clover in grassland swards; and
- Continuing our support for research and innovation such as the potential of novel feed additives in grass based production systems.
I will work to ensure that the next Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is aligned with this ambition and that climate action is main streamed in the development of our CAP strategic plan to ensure the delivery of this target. 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.