Wednesday 16 January 2019

Kenny wins concessions on EU plans for emissions

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s tough stance has paid off.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s tough stance has paid off.
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny appears to have secured concessions on carbon emissions reduction targets for Ireland.

At an EU summit Mr Kenny demanded that Ireland be given special treatment because of the country's large number of cows, which produce methane, a damaging greenhouse gas.

A deal on the table would benefit Ireland as it will go beyond just an emissions-reduction target based on the size of the economy and population.

The new proposal will allow for "agriculture and land use" to be a factor, along with the need to balance the EU's food production with climate change demands.

Although the details are not yet sorted out, the European Commission will examine the best way of "encouraging the sustainable intensification of food production, while optimising the sector's contribution to greenhouse gas mitigation and sequestration".

Government sources said the insertion of the language on agriculture into the deal was hugely significant for Ireland.

The details are expected to be thrashed out after the 2015 United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris.

The Taoiseach had been under pressure from farmers to secure concessions on what they warned could otherwise be a "catastrophic" carbon emissions deal at the summit.

Mr Kenny had taken a tough stance in talks on a deal for carbon-emissions reductions up to 2020 and demanded concessions for Ireland.

He had said he believed the Government should be given special concessions for Ireland's beef sector and pointed out the dairy sector would also expand when milk quotas were dropped next year.

The EU agreed in 2008 that carbon emissions would be cut by one fifth by the end of the decade, but Mr Kenny was highly critical of this deal. The Taoiseach indicated he would not support the draft deal.

"In Ireland's case we have a legacy that is truly catastrophic and [the deal] should never have been accepted in the way that it was based on per capita income at a time when our country was in a very different position financially from now. And it means that if the language that is now on the table were to be translated it would mean that whatever government was in office from 2020 would be in a very difficult position," he said.

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) said Ireland needed a "fairer climate package" from Europe.

IFA president Eddie Downey said the country had a high carbon-efficient model of food production.

"At this time of increasing global demand for protein-based foods such as beef, it is important that past mistakes in climate talks are not repeated.

"Carbon-efficient countries, such as Ireland, must be encouraged to meet this demand, instead of being displaced by regions that are less carbon efficient," he said.

Irish Independent

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