Farming faces 'challenging' goals with 30 action points

Emissions from Irish agriculture have risen sharply since 2011, driven by larger herds and rising milk production. Stock Image
Emissions from Irish agriculture have risen sharply since 2011, driven by larger herds and rising milk production. Stock Image
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The agriculture sector faces challenging targets under the Government's Climate Action Plan, with more than 30 action points to help reduce emissions by 10-15pc from the sector.

Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the country's greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 30pc of the total. It will have a five-year carbon budget and it will have to fund the cost of compliance if it does not meet its targets.

European agriculture has only seen greenhouse gas emissions drop by 1pc since 2005 and emissions from Irish agriculture have risen sharply since 2011, driven by larger herds and rising milk production.

Now the Government plans to bring forward the introduction of the Teagasc roadmap for reducing emissions and review education material on climate change, agriculture and land use in second and third-level institutions.

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

The plan also calls for the restoration of 22,107 hectares of raised bog habitat, which it says will directly reduce or halt carbon loss, as well as the establishment of a number of priority peatland sites as part of a network of climate change-related indicators.

Reducing the age cattle are finished will also be looked at, as part of a review into animal health and finishing regimes.

A feasibility study on the availability of feedstocks for an anaerobic digestion industry is also set to be carried out by the end of next year.

Farming organisations described the targets as challenging.

Irish Independent