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'Ireland must work to offset its agricultural emissions'


Climate change researcher Dr Chris Field

Climate change researcher Dr Chris Field

Arthur Carron

Climate change researcher Dr Chris Field

Ireland must be "ambitious" in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy and transport to offset any increase in the agricultural sector.

A leading member of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the agricultural sector was among the main drivers of dangerous climate change.

Among the challenges for Ireland was to increase production without impacting on emissions, said Dr Chris Field.

He was among 60 global experts on climate change, food security and agriculture who met in Dublin recently to consider how emissions can be reduced from this sector.

Food production, particularly from livestock, is a significant source of greenhouse gases and the Government has sought special concessions from the EU in relation to our agricultural output.

But Dr Field said this would require ambition in other areas, to offset increases in emissions which were likely to arise.

He said: "We can reduce greenhouse gases from energy, but the problem is we don't know how to do if for agriculture? How can we be as efficient as possible? How can we take emissions down to zero? The big challenge for a country like Ireland is to increase agricultural yields at the same time as decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's a big challenge, because the mechanisms of release, especially around animals, are right at the very heart of climate change.

"It needs to be recognised that agriculture presents special challenges. One way (to help convince of the need for concessions) is to make more ambitious cuts in energy and other areas."

Agriculture makes up more than 29pc of all our emissions, followed by transport and energy at around 21pc each.

World leaders will meet in Paris later this year to strike a global deal on curbing emissions over the coming decades.

Scientific research conducted by the IPCC will inform the discussions.

Dr Field added that there would be opportunities to be "ambitious and different", and that each region of the world would require "different solutions".

Irish Independent