Farm Ireland

Saturday 16 December 2017

Parliament rejects bid to halve emission credits

Forestry can have the double impact of reducing emissions from the beef herd.
Forestry can have the double impact of reducing emissions from the beef herd.

Sarah Collins

The European Parliament has backed away from efforts to prevent EU countries using forests and grasslands to offset their 2030 climate targets.

In a vote last week, the Parliament rejected an earlier vote by environment committee MEPs to halve the number of credits for grasslands and forests that would enable countries to knock down their overall greenhouse gas emissions.

But they did vote in favour of an earlier starting date for calculating emissions cuts - 2018 instead of the 2020 proposed by the Commission - a move that would require Ireland to make extra efforts to curb emissions.

Most of Ireland's MEPs voted in favour of the report, except for Independent Luke Ming Flanagan, who voted against it, Fine Gael's Seán Kelly and Independent Marian Harkin, who both abstained.

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness said the vote was "of some help to Ireland" but that three-way talks between MEPs, EU governments and the Commission would be decisive.

"Agriculture will have to play its part," she said. "I hope we will end up in a situation that reflects the current difficulty [with] targets that were previously not achievable," she said of Ireland's 2020 targets, which the Government is not expected to reach.

Under the draft 2030 plan, Ireland is obliged to cut emissions by 30pc compared to 2005 levels in agriculture, transport, building and waste. Heavy industry is covered by the bloc's emissions trading scheme.

The target is part of a wider EU commitment to reduce emissions by 40pc by 2030 (in all sectors, including heavy industry) compared to 1990 levels. It is the EU's contribution to the international Paris climate accord, which was reaffirmed by EU environment ministers on Monday, who said it could not be renegotiated, as the US has requested.

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During a debate last week, MEPs hit out at US president Donald Trump for pulling out of the deal, the first one to be signed by all global emitters.

"Simply put, the US administration's decision is a mistake," said European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

EU governments have yet to reach a unified negotiating position on the EU's 2030 targets, which they will then have to take into talks with MEPs and the Commission.

IFA welcomes soya ruling

Soya, almond and other plant products can no longer be marketed as milk, yoghurt, cheese or butter, the EU’s highest court said last week.

Following a challenge by a German trading association against products sold by vegetarian food company TofuTown, the Luxembourg-based court said EU law “reserves the term ‘milk’ only for milk of animal origin”. That extends to milk products such as cream, yoghurt, cheese and butter, the court said.

The Irish Farmers’ Association welcomed the judgment, saying “soya and nut-based products have been riding on the coat-tails of dairy” .

“I would urge all retailers to take due note of this momentous decision, and to take its logic to the next level, by ensuring that, in their supermarkets, those substitutes are not presented to consumers in the dairy cabinets,” said IFA National Liquid Milk Chairman John Finn.

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Online Editors