EU emissions targets 'the biggest threat to Irish farming' - IFA
Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30
Ireland's cows made headlines this week in Brussels.
US/German owned insider website Politico ran a story calling Ireland a "not so green Emerald isle" for falling behind on its carbon emission targets.
According to the European Commission, Ireland is likely to miss its 2020 emission reduction target by 10pc, mainly as a result of transport and agriculture emissions.
Agriculture alone is is responsible for 32pc of Ireland's total emissions, and the government is fiercely lobbying the EU for softer 2030 targets.
The Commission is set to publish legislation by the summer setting out 2030 targets for every EU country, following commitments made at the Paris climate conference earlier this year.
The government wants the EU to acknowledge that Ireland was unable to make investments in emission reduction during the banking crisis.
It also wants the Commission to take into account a major tree-planting programme and the vast swathes of unused grassland in Ireland that offset emissions.
"There is probably not a single bigger threat to agricultural production in Ireland at the moment," said Liam MacHale, director of the Irish Farmers' Association in Brussels.
"We're looking for a recognition of the role of agriculture within Ireland," he added.
IFA boss Joe Healy will visit Brussels this week to speak to EU agriculture chief Phil Hogan about the "flexibility" available to Ireland under the EU's upcoming proposal.