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Climate Change Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (178)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

178. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the extent to which his Department continues to meet climate change targets in conjunction with the protection of the agri-food business; the main issues of conflict if any, that exist with his proposals for resolution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29798/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision 406/2009/EC (ESD) sets annual binding emission reduction targets for EU Member States for the period 2013-2020. These targets cover emissions from sectors outside of the EU Emissions Trading System, including agriculture, transport, buildings and waste. For the year 2020, the target set for Ireland was that emissions should be 20% below their value in 2005. The 2020 greenhouse gas emissions estimates report, published by the EPA in January 2021, indicates that emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by the ESD could be 8% below 2005 levels by 2020. According to this report, Ireland will cumulatively exceed the carbon budget implied by our ESD targets by 11-12Mt and will need to avail of flexibilities in order to comply with our obligations. Pre-COVID19 estimates of the additional costs of purchasing carbon credits for compliance with these targets were in the region of €6 million to €13 million, depending on the price and final quantity of allowances required.Looking forward, the Programme for Government commits to an annual average 7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade), while our current 2030 EU target is a 30% emissions reduction by 2030. The European Commission will publish their “Fit for 55” package this July, which is expected to propose higher EU targets for all Member States, including Ireland, in line with the new EU ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. While Irish agriculture has a positive international reputation in terms of producing high quality, sustainable produce, emissions from the agri-food sector have continued to increase. The long-term challenge for the sector is to achieve carbon neutrality, while not compromising our capacity for sustainable food production. The Government is committed to finding the balance between environmental, climate and biodiversity needs, and supports for farmers.The Climate Action Plan 2019 includes a range of policy and measures to be delivered in order to ensure we meet our existing EU targets. My Department launched a public consultation in March 2021 to inform the Climate Action Plan 2021, and to identify additional policies and measures necessary to meet the Programme for Government ambition. As well as developing the next Climate Action Plan, we are evaluating the potential climate contributions from land use improvements, to set in train the development of a land-use strategy. Land-use offers significant potential to sequester additional carbon and may provide a new source of family farm income and rural economic benefit.We recognise the interlinked role the agriculture and agri-food sectors have with the waste sector and are also committed to supporting the agri-food sector to evolve Ireland’s capability as a leader in circular economies. We are investing in research in the agri-food sector to prioritise investment in climate and the bio-economy and will implement the National Policy Statement on the Bio-economy, providing the agri-food sector with new opportunities using biological resources in a sustainable and circular manner. With the correct policy choices in the agriculture sector, we can reward farmers for sequestering carbon, restoring biodiversity, improving water and air quality, producing clean energy, and developing schemes that support results-based outcomes. In the Climate Action Plan 2021, far reaching policy changes will be developed across every sector that set us on the path of systemic change that is required for Ireland to become a climate-neutral and climate-resilient society and economy by 2050 at the latest.

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