The long-awaited sectoral carbon targets have finally landed.
As revealed by this newspaper over two weeks ago, agriculture will have to reduce its footprint by 22-30% over the next nine years. The base figure from 2018 is 22.03 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq).
This means the range of the reduction required will be between 4Mt and 6Mt. That’s a 50% difference, and we won’t know for some time where the final landing zone will be.
What we do know is that we can get close to the lower target without a cut in livestock numbers, but that will require wide uptake of the 40 actions listed for farming in the Climate Action Plan.
Some of the CAP Pillar II scheme priorities make more sense now in light of the Climate Action Plan
Many of these relate to the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) designed by Teagasc, including reducing the volume of chemical fertiliser, switching to protected urea and low-emission slurry spreading.
Some of the CAP Pillar II scheme priorities make more sense now in light of the Climate Action Plan.
The €260m funding for organic farming, heavily criticised in some quarters, matches the ambition to switch an extra 275,000ha to organics by 2030. That would see a five-fold increase from 76,000ha to 350,000ha. This measure will reduce farming’s carbon footprint by 0.3Mt, less than half the 0.7Mt planned in savings by reducing the crude protein content of animal rations.
Minister for Agriculture Charilie McConalogue expresses optimism that Irish agriculture can hit its targets, and rejects talk of an early (upwards) narrowing of farming’s target, but says we need “to hit the ground running”. And don’t mention the national herd, the Taoiseach thinks it’s become an obsession.