Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

EU emission targets slammed

European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard launched the plans last week. Photo: Reuters.
European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard launched the plans last week. Photo: Reuters.
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

European Commission proposals that the EU should set itself a target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40pc by 2030 has provoked a furious reaction from the Irish farm sector.

Climate Action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, launched the plans last week, claiming that the 40pc GHG reduction, relative to 1990 emission levels, would ensure Europe had a low-carbon economy while still being competitive.

To achieve the proposed targets, the energy and industrial sectors would have to reduce emissions by 43pc below 2005 levels, while agriculture would have to deliver a 30pc cut.

But the proposed changes have sparked an angry response from farm organisations. The ICMSA, IFA and ICOS have all warned that the Commission's plans posed a serious threat to Ireland's dairy expansion hopes.

"An across-the-board broadly similar reduction in all the member states is most certainly not an equitable proposal because our food production is proportionately less environmentally damaging than most other member states," said ICMSA president John Comer.

"Similarly, our food sector is proportionately much more important than in every other member state," Mr Comer added.

Noting that a summit on the Commission's 2030 targets is set for March 21, the ICMSA president said Ireland must not be "bounced" into any agreement.

TJ Flanagan of ICOS pointed out that the proposals from Commissioner Hedegaard went much further than the EU was required to do under international agreements. He said Ireland was within its Kyoto limits and already had a binding EU commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 20pc by 2020.

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IFA president Eddie Downey has described the EU proposals as a repeat of the same mistakes made in climate policy when previous emission reduction targets were set.

"The failure by the Commission to recognise the need to support the development of emission efficient and sustainable food production is a continuation of inadequate climate policy at EU level.


"Ireland, like many other EU member states, produces food to the highest environmental standards, with greenhouse gas emissions per kilo of product amongst the lowest in the world," Mr Downey said.

The Commission proposals will face considerable opposition from both the EU council of ministers and from sections of the European Parliament.

However, sources in Brussels said there was serious pressure from the green lobby for agriculture to "take its share" of GHG reductions.

Irish Independent