Analysis: The future of Irish farming won't be dictated by the Paris conference
Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30
The outcome of the 21st Conference of the Party (COP21) talks in Paris will not dictate the future direction of Irish farming.
That battle will be won, or lost, at the European Commission next year, when member states will agree the 40pc emission cuts required by each sector of the economy by 2030 - agriculture, industry, transport, buildings and, possibly, aviation and shipping too.
The UN climate summit is solely concerned with high-level goals. COP21 is not concerned with how parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change make cuts in emissions. It only wants to see the necessary steps taken towards decarbonisation.
The State will seek a special case for agriculture during the EU talks, arguing that Ireland's agri-food emissions should be treated differently than those in other members states.
A number of reasons will be proffered. Our grassland-based system means food is produced more sustainably than other countries.
If we are forced to reduce output, it will result in food being produced elsewhere at a higher environmental cost.
It will also make the case the recession severely impacted economic growth and that growing agriculture will allow us to invest in research and development, and transfer this knowledge to other countries, a measure known as technology transfer.
As outputs from Irish farms are monitored, we have already made enormous strides towards accountability, and the system allows us more readily identify issues which need to be addressed.