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)
Dr. Oliver Moore:
It is always an interesting one. The basic issue is that Ireland must reduce our absolute emissions. Organic performs better per hectare but per kilo it is debatable. The core difference is there are no mineral fertilisers used on an organic farm at all. Such fertilisers are a huge part of the carbon footprint of Irish agriculture. In addition, there is an automatically lower stocking rate and there is no nitrates derogation so per hectare, the overall land impact of an organic farm is much smaller than that of a conventional one. The exact amount of difference depends on whether one looks at it per kilo or per hectare. It is a conundrum in that sense but it is clear a larger amount of organic farms in Ireland would result in lower overall and absolute emissions because mineral fertiliser would not be used and there would be a lower stocking rate. It is hard to actually define the difference because one must think about it in either per kilo or per hectare terms. The core point is we must reduce our absolute emissions. If we can keep farm numbers reasonably steady, organic farms are good, and potentially better, for employment and if there is a market for their produce from them, then it is worth making that transition. However it is down to how one counts things as well. I hope that addresses the Deputy's question.