Emphasis must be put on reducing emissions per animal rather than on herd reduction, IFA environment chair Paul O’Brien has said in response to the EU’s strategy to reduce methane emissions.

O’Brien said that it was correct of the EU to set up an expert group, due to meet in the first half of 2021, to analyse the life cycle of methane emissions.

“The science in this area is evolving. Research by Oxford University, led by Myles Allen, has demonstrated how the current methodology used to calculate methane emissions is not appropriate. This needs to be reflected in how inventories are developed.

“I think the emphasis must be on reducing emissions per animal rather than on herd reduction. The commitment to develop a carbon navigator template to calculate carbon emissions and removals acknowledges the carbon farmers are removing from the atmosphere, not just the emissions,” he said.

Carbon credit

“Farmers in the EU are getting no credit for the carbon they currently sequester through their pasture, crops and hedgerows,” he added.

“Farmers are already doing a lot, and here in Ireland, the sector has a roadmap set out as part of the Teagasc MAC Curve. With the right supports and incentives, farmers can continue to play our part in the European and national effort by improving the carbon efficiency of our output.”

O'Brien added that the IFA has been seeking policy changes from Government to support farmers to develop on-farm or community-led projects.

“We have seen the benefits to farmers and rural communities in Germany, as well as internationally in the US and New Zealand, from the development of biogas plants. These types of projects have a central part to play in Ireland’s decarbonisation plan,” he said.

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