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.
The recently launched ‘All-of-Government Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown’ is a collaborative approach that sets out the vision and pathway to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and meet our 2030 EU targets. The contribution from the agriculture sector to this national ambition is significant.
However, agriculture cannot stand in isolation on this matter and will continue to work with all stakeholders including the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment to continue to examine and deliver the best means of encouraging sustainable food production, while optimising the sectors contribution to greenhouse gas mitigation, sequestration and displacement of fossil fuels. The targets set in this climate action plan for the sector are ambitious and challenging and will require early and extensive adoption of mitigation measures.
The approach of my Department is to focus on improving the emissions intensity of Irish production through the deployment of innovative and efficient practices at farm level combined with the practical application of emerging scientific knowledge. The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) supports capital investment in a number of target areas which will promote, among other things, sustainability (e.g. low emissions slurry spreading equipment, farm nutrient storage, and renewable energy and energy efficiency). I recently made €10 million available for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, following a comprehensive review of TAMS designed to increase its focus on sustainability. Eligible investments include extension of support for Solar PV Installation to all sectors and support for LED Lighting as the only form of lighting to be grant aided. In addition, other energy efficiency measures such as biomass boilers and water heating continue to be eligible investment items under TAMS.
Recently, my colleague Richard Bruton, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment opened the second phase of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH), an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems for applications. Details of this scheme including the tariffs that apply are available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's website at the following link: https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/support-scheme-renewable-/.
My Department continues to work at building this consensus around the need for the agriculture sector to make a positive contribution to the climate change debate and I will continue to engage extensively and work in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders in this regard.
I am confident the agricultural sector as a whole will meet this challenge and contribute significantly to Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy and society, with collaboration, co-operation and collective responsibility being key in achieving this ambition and realising the potential of pro-active engagement.