Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Reduction of Carbon Emissions of 51% by 2030: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the representatives for the two presentations. I will get straight into it since we have only two minutes. I wonder could Dr. Moore give us some simple numbers. For example, if a hectare switches to non-organic farming to organic, what sort of a gain in methane and nitrous oxides, that is, in greenhouse gases can we expect? That would give us some sort of indicator of the scale of what could be achieved.

Turning to Mr. Keane, I am very much aware of the New Zealand model, whereby there is a net-zero target overall, as I understand it, but the biogenic methane target is a reduction of between 24% and 47% by 2050. The position we are in is that the target for 2030 from agriculture is about 10% achieved from 50% uptake of those Teagasc measures. From Mr. Keane's point of view, how do we go beyond that 10%, which is modest? If we even got to 15% we would probably still be talking about trying to get 70% from transport and so on, so how do we stretch that? On another point, does he agree that if one looks beyond agriculture to the whole supply chain for food and the way it works, the consumer is driving us away from high-carbon methodologies? Will consumers start to switch? Does he expect pressure coming from the consumer to force change in agriculture beyond that?

The final question I have relates to land use and sequestration. We were told last week that overall, land is actually emitting 5.5 million tonnes, leaving aside the biogenic methane. Consequently, paying for sequestration that has been done in the past is not an option. What we would really have to do is start paying for improvements that sequester carbon from here onwards. What do our guests think would be the practical policy measures that would encourage farming to diversify or to drain some of these lands that are very high carbon retainers? What sort of instruments would they like to see that would put us in a situation where, looking to the future, farmers would be generating part of their income from carbon farming and part of it from more traditional food delivery? I just want to get an understanding of what instruments and policies our guests would like to see.


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