‘Irish agriculture the least climate-efficient in Europe’
Irish agriculture is the least climate-efficient in Europe, according to a EU study which is likely to trigger further debate over the sustainability of Ireland’s agricultural ambitions. The research, commissioned by the European Parliament, found that Ireland had the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions per Euro of agricultural output of 28 member states.
The finding reflects Ireland’s primary focus on more carbon intensive beef and dairy systems, which contrasts with other countries where forestry, vegetables and grains account for a larger share of activity.
The Irish government had previously highlighted that emissions per unit of output in Ireland’s dairy sector were one of the lowest in Europe, while beef emissions were also below average. However, the EU’s study, which uses emissions and output data relating to the 2012-14 period, examines emissions from agricultural output as a whole.
A senior official at Department of Agriculture, Ireland said, “While greenhouse gas productivity per euro is a widely-accepted indicator at international level to monitor green growth, it is not a measure of a typical carbon footprint per unit of agricultural output, and so should not be interpreted to mean we are the least climate efficient.”
The EU study suggested most countries, including Ireland, were managing to combine higher productivity in agriculture with a lower carbon footprint, albeit with varying degrees of success.
It also noted that Ireland’s per capita expenditure on agricultural research and development was considerably higher than other member states.