Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

MEPs set to approve stricter climate targets for agriculture

Sarah Collins

The European Parliament is set to vote in favour of strict new 2030 climate targets for agriculture and other non-industrial sectors, despite lobbying efforts by the Irish Farmers' Association.

A vote tomorrow by the 751-seat Parliament is to endorse environment MEPs' bid to make it more difficult to use forests and grasslands to offset emissions cuts under the 2030 plan.

The IFA was in Brussels last week to try to talk MEPs down from their attempts to toughen up the rules, which are the EU's contribution to the Paris climate accord.

IFA environment chairman Thomas Cooney (above) said MEPs were "negatively targeting agriculture by seeking to significantly reduce the positive contribution that forestry is making to reducing greenhouse gas emissions".

Under the new rules - which were proposed by the European Commission last summer, but have still to be agreed by MEPs and governments - Ireland would have to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 30pc by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels), but could offset up to 26.8 million tonnes of CO2 with savings from forestry or grassland. MEPs want to reduce those potential offsets to 18.2 million tonnes.

The IFA said the move "would result in over nine million tonnes of carbon savings from forestry generated by farmers being disregarded".

"Members of the European Parliament should not be unravelling existing agreements," Mr Cooney said. "They should be doing everything in their power to maximise the carbon-saving potential of agriculture."

The EU wants to cut emissions in the agriculture, transport, building and waste sectors - those not covered by the bloc's carbon trading scheme - by 30pc by 2030 (on 2005 levels), as part of an overall target - including heavy industry - of 40pc (compared to 1990 levels).

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The issue for Ireland is that current projections for 2020 show the State will be 12 to 14 million tonnes of carbon off its target. At €40 a tonne, this means Ireland will have to write a cheque to the Commission in the region of €1bn.

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