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Scrap Green climate bill, says Dail committee

THE Green Party's plans to introduce a climate change bill before it leaves office suffered a double setback yesterday.

A Fianna Fail senator threatened not to support the Climate Change Response Bill and a cross-party committee called for it to be scrapped.

The bill has sparked opposition from farmers who argue that it will force them to reduce the number of cows in their herds -- because its emission-reduction target, estimated at 26pc, is higher than the 20pc reduction by 2020 agreed by all EU member states.

Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle said yesterday it would be exceptionally difficult to reduce emissions in the agriculture sector because 50pc of them are due to methane production (much of it emitted by cows).

Fianna Fail senator Denis O'Donovan said he would not vote for the bill, due to come back before the Seanad unless there were changes.

And the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee published a report yesterday calling for the bill in its current format to be shelved.

"The stipulations in the bill will hinder the targeted €4bn increase in (agri-food) exports in the next four years and put the expected job increases in the sector in at risk," said the committee's chairman, Fianna Fail TD John Brady.

There is growing opposition among rural-based Fianna Fail TDs after both the Irish Farmers' Association and state farming advisory body Teagasc came out against it.

"We have to be very careful here because agriculture is what's keeping the economy going at the moment and we can't do anything to interfere with that," Sligo-North Leitrim TD Eamon Scanlon said.

However, at the Oireachtas Climate Change committee yesterday, Green Party TD Trevor Sargent yesterday insisted that the bill did not go further than the EU 20pc emissions reduction target.

Business lobby IBEC warned that the bill would costs households and businesses at least €400m a year above and beyond the EU targets.

Irish Independent