Farmers are free to trade in carbon credits, but the State has to account for any reductions in emissions under international climate change agreements, Department of Agriculture secretary general Brendan Gleeson has insisted.

Gleeson told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture last week that the State had no interest in owning carbon credits, but he cautioned that there was no system of carbon trading in Ireland.

“The State does not claim to own carbon credits,” Gleeson told the committee.

“It is up to the farmer if a company wants to pay him something for ESG [Environmental, Social Governance] or give some other benefit, but we have to ensure that if there is an emissions reduction in forestry, we can include it as part of the overall emissions reduction,” he said.

“It is not a question of ownership but of how to account for emissions,” the secretary general added.


“The State does not claim it owns carbon credits and will not be trading carbon credits from forestry, but we need to be able to count carbon reductions in our inventory so we can say that, overall, the State has reduced emissions by X,” Gleeson maintained.

However, he insisted that there is no agreed mechanism for trading credits in Ireland.

“We do not have a system of carbon farming in this country yet. A system is being developed and that will have to establish some sort of framework for certifying emissions reduction and carbon credits for people. It will also have to determine how they are traded,” Gleeson maintained.

Gleeson’s comments follow the launch of a new platform last week which aims to facilitate the trade in biodiversity credits and carbon credits.

Cork-based firm ConnectGreen claims that its biodiversity and carbon offsetting platform will connect farmers and landowners with companies who are looking for “guaranteed, certified and verified biodiversity and carbon offsetting initiatives”.