Ireland is at a critical point in its energy and climate history, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughten has said, but warned that Ireland faces real challenges in meeting its climate objectives and EU obligations.
He said Ireland is a country playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change but this obligation, is an opportunity as much as an obligation.
"In any event I believe it is a moral necessity and a vital national interest."
Naughten told the Energy in Agriculture event today in Gurteen Agricultural College, that the National Climate Mitigation Plan was agreed by government and published in July and it sets out what we are doing and planning to do to move to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.
"Energy efficiency is central to the plan."
He said that the long-term vision for Irish agriculture, forestry and land-use is based on an approach to carbon neutrality over the long term, which will enhance Ireland's capacity for sustainable food production.
"I recognise, as does the whole of Government, the economic, employment and social importance of this sector, but Agriculture is also the largest single contributor to Ireland’s greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions.
"The simple reality is that it is one of the most challenging and complex sectors as we try to reduce our emissions and make progress towards our own long-term objectives as well as our near term EU greenhouse gas and clean air level targets."
The Minister also said that the lower mitigation potential and complex natural processes that contribute to emissions must be balanced with multiple objectives for the sector, such as food production.
"Achieving our aims will mean using increasing amounts of renewable energy on farms; encouraging farmers to adopt measures to increase their energy efficiency and incentivizing a growth in the domestic bioenergy sector."