Chairperson of the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) Marie Donnelly was very clear that the global targets for climate change are present and very real.
In a debate at the Moorepark forum as part of the Teagasc Moorepark open day 2021, she said: “We have a global target and that is to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees or, at the very worst, less than two degrees of warming.
“In order for that to happen, all countries must do their part to contribute.”
When pushed on whether Ireland could we be more nimble in how we approach such targets, Donnelly said all the actions would be discussed at COP26, happening in Glasgow later this year.
“If a country is not pulling its weight, it will be asked why not. Carbon leakage is valid, but we have to deal with where we are right now,” she said.
Dairy farmer and former IFA president Padraig Walshe was also speaking at the event and he claimed change will cost money and will cost the agricultural industry and farmers a lot, and they need support and science needs support and time.
Donnelly responded: “I and the CCAC will set the national targets for Ireland, but the process is it will be up to the Ministers in charge to set targets for each sector as they are best positioned to know the policies and incentives as they should know the sector best.”
She also said that the Government had multiple options open to it in how to achieve a 51% greenhouse gas emissions reduction and if some sectors are not or cannot reach targets, then some other sector would have to take up the slack and that is where the politics will play out on this.
Outgoing Teagasc director Gerry Boyle said: “Up to now, ‘Just Transition’ (fund for retraining, etc) has been very narrowly framed and all sectors, particularly agriculture, will need appropriate compensation.
“We have done the analysis of course and the impact and hit on farming is huge and it will hit agribusiness first and then the likes of beef processing, which is particularly laboursome.”
Donnelly reiterated the Climate Act was the start of the game, the starting whistle if you like, for Ireland’s role in climate change.
Then step one is the CCAC recommendation, which will set maximum emissions across the economy, not sectoral emissions, and then the second step will be for the ministers to set sectoral targets.