IIEA/RDS Report Confirms Irish Agriculture And Forestry Policy Needs To Be Climate Smart

Stop Climate Chaos has said that a new report on ‘climate smart agriculture’, published on Thursday by the IIEA and RDS, makes it clear that agriculture and livestock agriculture are major drivers of ‘dangerous’ climate change and that Irish exports do not contribute to solving global food insecurity.

Spokesperson for the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, Oisin Coghlan, said:

“The detailed evidence presented by the IIEA/RDS report can chart a new course for Ireland’s agriculture, forestry and land-use policy to produce more and healthier food with much reduced impacts on climate and the environment. It is unacceptable that Ireland’s agricultural emissions are projected to increase and remain high for decades to come.

“As this report finds, concentrating on efficiency gains and aiming for productivity increases are entirely insufficient policies for reducing Ireland’s very high agricultural emissions, increasing food security for the world’s poorest, or reversing past damage to biodiversity and water due to poor farming and forestry practices.

“The evidence provided strongly supports a re-alignment of policy toward reducing dependence on beef and dairy for export aligned with promoting diets away from foods with very high greenhouse gas emissions such as beef.  At present, Ireland’s food exports are feeding wealthier consumers and are not helping feed the world’s poorest.”

Commenting upon the biodiversity implications highlighted in the report, Oonagh Duggan of Birdwatch Ireland, said:

“We welcome the recognition of the impact of increased afforestation on birds and biodiversity. If afforestation plans for Ireland are to have environmental integrity, then additional policies and action are needed not just to stem the losses of bird populations, biodiversity or water quality but to restore them.”

Absolute reductions in agricultural emissions are needed year on year from now on if the sector is to play a fair part in meeting Ireland’s EU and Paris Agreement climate targets. The IIEA/RDS report states that relative efficiency gains can only reduce the sector’s total emissions if production of high-emissions food does not rise. However, Irish policy is to increase cattle numbers thereby increasing climate pollution due to methane from digestion and from the large amounts of nitrogen used to grow more grass.  Climate smart policy requires a change in direction.

Stop Climate Chaos will publish its own analysis of Ireland’s agriculture and land-use policy in the coming days.

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