DEAR EDITOR: Ireland’s biodiversity relies heavily on the health of our farmlands, and it is imperative that we acknowledge the significant role certain agricultural practices play in greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation.

As stewards of the land, the vast majority of farmers are naturally committed to its sustainable management. Nevertheless, there is much more our sector can achieve with the right tools and incentives.

One promising avenue to align agricultural practices with climate goals is carbon farming. Carbon farming entails rewarding farmers for reducing emissions and increasing carbon sequestration on their lands.

It offers an opportunity for both public and private carbon markets to support climate mitigation efforts in the agricultural sector. However, for farmers to be properly rewarded for their climate-friendly actions, we need a robust carbon farming framework that instils confidence, provides verification and offers certification.

Regrettably, many farmers in Ireland and across Europe face difficulties in accessing carbon markets due to the absence of approved tools for measuring, reporting and verifying emissions reductions on farms.

To address this challenge, the European Commission has proposed the Carbon Removal Certification Framework, which I have been working on as a representative of the EPP in the European Parliament’s Energy and Industry Committee, as has Colm Markey MEP in the Agriculture Committee.

This framework aims to make carbon farming a central element, helping farmers participate in carbon markets effectively.

The recent Nature Restoration Law rekindled a long-standing debate about the relationship between nature and farming. It is undeniable that action must be taken to restore nature, but it is equally important that farmers, who are the boots on the ground, are provided with the necessary tools and opportunities to contribute to achieving our climate goals.

Some environmental groups have raised potential issues of misuse of carbon credits by companies who want to mask their own climate performance. This misses the larger point.

Green Deal

The European Green Deal is a comprehensive legislative package designed to transform our economy into a more efficient and sustainable one. Such groups and some politicians say they want farmers on board, yet rally against environmentally positive potential income streams for farmers. An all stick-and-no-carrot approach only makes it more difficult for farmers.

Carbon farming is just one piece of this larger puzzle, but support for the monetisation of carbon credits as an additional revenue stream for farmers should not be controversial. I hope that all Irish MEPs can vote in line with this when it comes to the full plenary vote.