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 Chairman. To take up the last point and to plug my own view of this world, we need to move from looking at farming and climate to looking at the entire food sector and what is called the circular economy. In other words, we need to examine all of the impacts, including biodiversity and the entire supply chain from start to finish.

I was very taken with the point Mr. Keane made that a young farmer taking out a loan and considering the next number of years needs certainty. I have learned one thing from my small amount of experience in this field. If young farmers build their future plans on the basis that carbon will not be charged at €200 per tonne in other parts of the economy over the next decade, they could be making the wrong choices. We have to integrate carbon farming in whatever way we can, including carbon rewards for farmers, into the decisions that young farmers are taking and the thinking of the banks providing that funding.

In that context I again want to raise an issue. If agriculture has to find savings of 10% or 15% and the rest of the economy, including transport and buildings, has to find 70% savings, we will not be talking about €100 a tonne. We already know that other sectors of the economy will be taking on measures that will cost €300 a tonne and more. They will be very happy to pay farmers to reduce carbon at a lower cost than they could.

Where does that leave paying farmers to reduce stock levels, be it through the organic farming that Dr. Moore suggested or diversification? Do we need to think more seriously about what the environment will be like in a few years time when we will pay a lot to decarbonise transport? There will be opportunities for farmers to earn significant sums from doing things otherwise.

My next question is for two of the witnesses. Do we need to move to a pan-European CAP and trade model for agriculture which allows for more efficient production, something everyone has acknowledged, to be valued? That would centre production in the most productive member states. It would also involve border adjustments so that produce coming from South America or elsewhere could not come in via a system involving carbon leakage or what used to be known as dumping. That was mentioned by other speakers. What his the view of Dr. Moore and Mr. Keane on these things which will be upon us before we know it?


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