The early weeks and months of 2019 will be a critical time in Irish politics, a time when crucial decisions affecting the future of the country – particularly the future of rural Ireland – will be made. Foremost in most people’s minds, of course, is the challenge of Brexit and its implications for this country. Less to the fore, but potentially of equal consequence, are pending decisions in the area of climate politics.

At present, the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, established by the Government in early July to consider how to implement the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, is approaching the end of its deliberations. Its report is due by 31 January 2019. The topic assigned to the Citizens’ Assembly was: “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change.” On the basis of the information presented to it, the assembly made the radical recommendation that climate change be placed at the centre of policy-making in Ireland. Among many other measures, it recommended that there should be a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.