Irish Daily Mail
CLIMATE TARGETS: FARMERS WARN OF ‘UPRISING’
Rural Ireland will revolt over ‘vicious’ measures
FARMERS have warned there will be ‘nothing short of an uprising in rural Ireland’ if ‘vicious’ measures are applied to the agriculture sector to meet net-zero targets. It comes as senior Government sources acknowledged that the suggestions contained in a report reveal one of the most politically challenging issues it faces.
The Irish Daily Mail exclusively reported on Saturday that Ireland would need to quadruple its afforestation targets, reduce the number of livestock by 30% and rewet 90% of reclaimed land if the agricultural sector is to meet net-zero targets.
The Government has committed to reaching net zero for carbon emissions by 2050.
But the Irish Farmers’ Association yesterday warned: ‘If some of the headline scenarios outlined in it were to proceed, it would be completely unacceptable to the association and its members and it would cause
nothing short of an uprising in rural Ireland.’
A Land Use Review group was established as part of the Programme for Government to figure out what this sector would have to contribute in terms of a reduction of carbon emissions. One Government source said that if this review isn’t handled correctly, it would ‘be the biggest challenge for the Government, bar none’.
The report was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but paid for by the Departments of Agriculture and the Environment. The EPA said the report is currently undergoing final preparation and is scheduled for publication in early March.
Mattie McGrath, leader of the Rural Independent TDs, said the report was a ‘vicious’ strike against rural Ireland. He added that it laid bare the ‘devastating impact’ of the Government’s ‘radical green policies’ on farming.
Mr McGrath said: ‘If these proposals are implemented, rural Ireland will face mass destruction.’ He called for an ‘unequivocal’ statement from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, ‘assuring us that no reductions in cattle, pigs, goats and sheep will be considered or implemented and that the report will be immediately disregarded and incinerated’.
The matter is due to be raised in the Dáil today. Another Independent TD, Seán Canney, expressed concern following the publication of the report. He said farmers ‘need to be involved in the decision-making process’ and that they ‘were willing to engage’, but that the findings from the research were ‘not achievable’ and represented a ‘hatchet job’ on farming.
Friends Of The Earth chief Oisín Coghlan said the challenge was ‘immense’. He added: ‘It’s never been possible to imagine a netzero agriculture sector with the herd as big as it is because our herd has been growing.’
He said it wasn’t a case of reducing the herd to the size it was around 50 years ago, but that it was a reflection that the national cow herd has continued to grow over the last decade or so.
Mr Coghlan added: ‘This issue is not going away; the fact that politicians don’t like to tell voters, particularly well-organised, vocal groups of voters in key constituencies, that there is inconvenience ahead doesn’t change the reality that we have to drastically reduce our emissions urgently.’
Last summer, the Government agreed the agricultural sector would have to reduce emissions by 25%, with the IFA claiming this figure as a victory for the sector.
However, the reduction in emissions for the sector known as Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) was not set, as it was agreed there was insufficient evidence to set the targets.
LULUCF covers forest land, cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlements, other land and harvested wood products.
The LULUCF and agricultural sectors are tightly interlinked and effectively represent a second set of emission reduction targets that farmers have to meet.
Once the first phase of the Land Use Review is published, the second phase is due to begin, and that will set out what this sector will do to meet its climate objectives. Sources said the report, which was carried out by soil, carbon
‘This issue is not going away’
and agri-ecologists under the auspices of the EPA Research Programme, indicated the scale of the challenge in addressing the climate crisis, but they stressed that the research and the different scenarios modelled within it were not Government policy.
It is understood it is one of many pieces of expert, scientific research that have been undertaken – involving mapping, monitoring and measurement – as part of the evidence gathering for the first phase of the Land Use Review.