Macra na Feirme has welcomed the Government's climate action plan but warned that it must be implemented fairly for the people of rural Ireland.
"Moving beyond simple carbon taxation is essential. Now the focus must move towards rewarding adopters of low-carbon technology and practices," said Macra president Thomas Duffy. He warned of rural Ireland's particularly vulnerable position to the consequences of rushed or mismanaged measures.
Macra supports cost-saving measures identified by Teagasc and included in the plan, such as improved fertiliser efficiency and livestock genetics. Some targets should even be higher, to go beyond the replacement of 50% CAN fertiliser with protected urea and the recommended inclusion rates for clover in pastures of 25% on beef and 15% on dairy farms.
However, retailers, commercial operators and State agencies will all need to support these, including through financial support.
Many sectors do not have viable low-carbon alternatives available
While the Government plans phased increases in carbon taxes on fossil fuels such as heating oil and diesel, Macra warned: "A fair transition into the green economy must not ignore that many sectors do not have viable low-carbon alternatives available such as is the case with farm machinery."
On transport, Duffy said electric vehicles (EVs) could be deployed to rural Ireland if the lack of rapid charging points is addressed, but "EV investment alone will not meet targets on congestion or emissions. Rural Ireland needs significant investment in low-carbon affordable public transport alongside investment in EVs".