In a letter to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) wrote of its concerns around sectoral emissions ceiling and the impact the decision will have on Irish agriculture and the social sustainability of rural areas.
IFA president Tim Cullinan said that the IFA fully recognises the need to reduce emissions and to limit global warming. However, he is concerned about the criteria upon which the Government will base its decision.
"We are concerned that Government is striving to achieve compliance with a deadline without having followed the necessary statutory requirements based on accurate, up-to-date information and without having fully and fairly consulted with the key agricultural stakeholders," he said.
He told An Taoiseach that before a sectoral ceiling for agriculture is brought into law, it is "incumbent" on Government to fully inform agricultural stakeholders before the final determination is met on the emissions ceiling.
"This requires meaningful engagement between the Government, relevant departments and the IFA on behalf of our members, in order to ensure that the factors, information and relevant data which feed into the eventual ceiling are fully informed, based on accurate and up-to-date information," he said.
A decision made without IFA involvement "will lack transparency", he said.
In relation to the Climate Action Act 2021, the IFA has asked to be provided with any analysis that has been completed, to assess the potential impact of any proposed sectoral emissions ceiling on the agricultural economy, or the social well-being of farm families or rural Ireland.
The act also states that the Government shall have regard to what it refers to as “the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane”.
The IFA is requesting immediate clarity on what "distinct characteristics" of biogenic methane, for the purposes of the act, are being considered and what consideration has been given to these characteristics.
"This is a centrally important factor which of itself is capable of informing a change in the final ceiling figure," Cullinan wrote.
Cullinan added that a figure of 22% would be very challenging for members, but potentially achievable.
However, he said that it would be irresponsible to impose a higher reduction without fairly addressing the issues discussed in the letter.
In order to be sustainable, change has to be introduced and implemented in a just and fair manner.
He pressed An Taoiseach that the IFA is first advised of the issues to be considered under the statutory process.
"I want to stress again the very significant impact the decision on sectoral emissions ceiling will have on our members livelihoods, our sector and the rural economy," Cullinan said to conclude the letter.