Creed hits out at ‘knee-jerk’ re­sponse over emis­sions tax call

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE -

AGRI­CUL­TURE min­is­ter Michael Creed has hit out at a po­ten­tial green tax on farm­ers, call­ing it a “knee-jerk” and “puni­tive” re­sponse to Ire­land’s cli­mate chal­lenges.

He said agri­cul­ture had be­come a “soft tar­get” for cli­mate ac­tivists, af­ter the Cit­i­zens’ Assem­bly voted over­whelm­ingly in favour of a tax on green­house gas emis­sions from farms.

“I didn’t hear the Cit­i­zens’ Assem­bly talk about ur­ban Ire­land re­duc­ing its trans­port foot­print,” Mr Creed ( pic­tured) told the Farm­ing In­de­pen­dent in Brus­sels.

“Agri­cul­ture is a soft tar­get pri­mar­ily be­cause ur­ban Ire­land doesn’t un­der­stand the jour­ney that farm­ers have been on in terms of re­duc­ing their car­bon foot­print.”

Agri­cul­ture ac­counts for over a third of Ire­land’s to­tal green­house gas emis­sions, ac- cord­ing to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency — the largest over­all emit­ter and sig­nif­i­cantly higher than any other EU coun­try.

But the Ir­ish Farm­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion says agri­cul­tural emis­sions have fallen by 6pc since 1990, de­spite out­put in­creas­ing by over 40pc, and pointed to green­house gas emis­sions from trans­port ris­ing by 130pc in the same pe­riod.

The Gov­ern­ment has ad­mit­ted that it will miss its 2020 EU emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get, with Pro­fes­sor John FitzGer­ald, chair of the gov­ern­ment’s Cli- mate Change Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, telling the Cit­i­zens’ Assem­bly on Sun­day that it would do so by “a sub­stan­tial mar­gin”.

But Mr Creed said the Gov­ern­ment was help­ing farm­ers do their bit by in­vest­ing in the beef data and ge­nomics pro­gramme, the Glas agri-en­vi­ron­ment scheme and af­foresta­tion plans.

Puni­tive

“A tax­a­tion on agri­cul­ture for car­bon emis­sions seems like a knee-jerk re­sponse in a vac­uum, un­aware of what we are do­ing al­ready,” Mr Creed said.

“We have a lot of levers in terms of the agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity al­ready and I don’t think a puni­tive tax­a­tion ap­proach would be help­ful, and I don’t think it would en­able us to achieve our po­ten­tial as a food pro­duc­ing is­land in a sus­tain­able way,” Mr Creed said.

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