Reducing the age cattle are finished among proposals in Government's Climate Action plan

  • Environmental standards of animal feeds to be reviewed
  • Maximum possible environment and climate ambition in next CAP
  • Restoration of 22,107ha of raised bog
  • Carbon tax increase from €20 per tonne to €80 by 2030
  • Rewetting 40,000 ha of organic grassland soils
Agriculture accounts for one-third of Ireland's total GHG emissions
Agriculture accounts for one-third of Ireland's total GHG emissions

Kevin Doyle and Margaret Donnelly

Almost every aspect of our daily lives will be affected by a new climate strategy which will be unveiled today.

Motorists and businesses will feel the brunt of tax hikes unless they actively invest in going green. The Government plans to force petrol and diesel cars off our roads, introduce new buildings regulations and change the school curriculum in a bid to counteract climate change.

A leaked copy of the plan seen by the Irish Independent shows it has a major emphasis on the transport sector. Proposals include banning petrol and diesel cars from town centres around the country.

A car-scrappage scheme is under consideration for next year in a bid to promote a move toward electric vehicles (EVs).

The plan recommits the Government to raising carbon tax from the current rate of €20 per tonne to €80 by 2030.

If the tax stood at €80 per tonne, based on today's prices and including Vat, a litre of petrol would be around 17c dearer and diesel 20c.

Agriculture Actions under the Government's new climate plan
Agriculture Actions under the Government's new climate plan

Ultimately, legislation will be introduced to ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars from 2030 and to stop granting NCTs from 2045. A series of incentives are in the pipeline for people willing to transfer to EVs, including a car-scrappage scheme. It is hoped to have a charging network capable of catering for 800,000 EVs in place by 2030.

Other measures include:

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  • Phasing out oil and gas boilers.
  • Doubling electricity tax on businesses.
  • New levies on single-use plastics (similar to plastic bag tax).
  • Loans for retrofitting homes to be repaid through property tax.
  • And changes to private pensions.

The Cabinet will meet today to sign-off on the plan which is heavy on ambition but short on detail in many areas.

Agriculture

The Government’s Climate Action Plan has 35 action points for agriculture, including bringing forward the introduction of the Teagasc GHG Emission report and reviewing education material on climate change, agriculture and land use in second and third level institutions to help educate farmers on the benefits of diversification. 

Carbon sequestration will also contribute to emissions reduction in the sector, the Government says targeting an average of 8,000 ha per annum of newly planted forest, rewetting 40,000 ha of organic grassland soils and better management of 450,000 ha of grassland.

One of the few definite projections is the restoration of 22,107ha of raised bog habitat, which it says will directly reduce/halt carbon loss.

It also calls for the establishment of a number of priority peatland sites as part of a network of climate change related indicators as EU and global monitoring sites.

Reducing the age cattle are finished will also be looked at, as part of a review into animal health and finishing regimes, while the environmental standards of animal feeds is also proposed to be looked at.

A target is to be set for the level of energy to be supplied by indigenous biomethane by 2030, with public consultation on increasing the supply of biomethane to the transport sector.

By the end of next year, the plan sets out to have a feasibility study into the available of feedstocks for an Anaerobic Digestion industry here, including the use of animal manure. 

The Government’s plan also wants to improve nitrogen use efficiency, support the maximum possible environment and climate ambition in the next CAP.

Other actions set out include more research into feed additives, increased livestock efficiency through genotyping, , improving slurry management on farms and developing a roadmap to ensure the future develop of agriculture and land use (including forestry) sector will be built on environmental sustainability.

The action plan also sets out to review nitrogen management and to review the conditionality of nitrate derogation terms.

On forestry, the report sets out to promote diversification of land use, identifying barriers to increasing afforestation and to increase the number of new Knowledge Transfer groups which promote sustainable forest management, as well as putting in place a publicly funded capital programme to extend current forestry programme, which goes to 2020.

It also says the Government will look at options to incentivise forestry measures. It also calls for increased use of timber in buildings.

Online Editors


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