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Thursday 13 December 2018

Carbon taxes will destroy rural economy, say IFA and ICMSA

Pat McCormack President of the ICMSA.
Pat McCormack President of the ICMSA.
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

The IFA and ICMSA have hit out at the possibility of carbon taxes being introduced to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The farm organisations' comments follow warnings from Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, that Ireland is "far off course" in achieving its CO2 reduction targets.

Ireland is facing massive fines because of its failure to meet strict EU targets, and Minister Bruton said that imposing carbon taxes will be among a suite of measures aimed at controlling emissions.

However, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the reality of farming's importance to the rural economy must be given equal consideration to the "scientific and environmental reality" of climate change.

"Farming and food production is not just a part of the rural economy; to a huge degree it is the total of our rural economy, and undermining it through fuel tax hikes will simply destroy the only meaningful economy in whole swathes of the state outside the cities and larger towns," said Mr McCormack.

IFA environment chairman Thomas Cooney said farmers were totally opposed to carbon taxes on the sector, which he said would directly impact on "farming's competitiveness without reducing climate emissions".

"Farmers in Ireland have a proud record as carbon-efficient food producers. We can and will do more, particularly in the resource efficiency and renewables areas.

"However, this depends on strong Government support and a fully funded CAP to meet the increased environmental and climate requirements," Mr Cooney said.

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Cross-sectoral implementation

As part of a series of measures to tackle climate change the IFA has called on the Government to:

* Establish a cross-sectoral implementation group, including the IFA, to mobilise Government departments and the State's advisory, scientific and economic development agencies to maximise the delivery of the emissions reductions identified by Teagasc in their recent climate abatement report;

* Work with EU leaders to introduce a carbon tariff on all less climate-efficient imports into the EU from South America and other regions to incentivise carbon-efficient food production;

* Regarding the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions:

- Re-examine the climate metrics applied when calculating methane, given the short-lived behaviour of methane in the atmosphere.

- C02 emission reductions through natural carbon sinks, such as forests and permanent pastures, should be included in the overall measurement of the contribution of emissions from the sector;

* On community and farm-scale renewables:

- The introduction of a guaranteed feed-in tariff model.

- Increased grid access, at node and substation level.

- Crowdfunding legislation and platforms.

- The development of regional biomass trade and logistic centres.

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