‘Ir­ish agri­cul­ture the least cli­mate-ef­fi­cient in Europe’

Rural & Marketing - - RURAL 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.

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