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:

The report released yesterday from the European Court of Auditors was very critical of the lack of CAP incentives to reduce livestock numbers and pointed out that agriculture emissions have not decreased in recent years. It referred to re-wetting peatlands and wetlands as being a good bang for our buck.

Farmers at this stage can be cognisant of a general direction of travel in that the EU and Irish targets for greenhouse gas are similar. I completely understand the concern given that there have continually been different messages. Eco-schemes will have a carbon farming dimension. That is part of what the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, will discuss in the final trilogues what shape carbon farming will take. In my longer submission I suggested quite a few areas.

One of the problems with carbon farming is that it is slow to build and hard to measure and maintain. As Mr. Keane said, there is an issue with the Kyoto measurements versus Paris commitment measurements. Be that as it may, the practices that make sense for carbon building are the kind of practices that can come through eco-schemes and supplement farmer incomes, in particular in the Border, midlands and west regions.

Practices like reduced stocking numbers and increased intensification can be part of that. A verifiable reduction in nitrogen fertiliser use, measures to potentially introduce combusted farmyard manure, catch crops, stubble crops and so on can be paid for through eco-schemes and can help.

I would voice concern about carbon trading. It could end up disadvantaging poorer regions in Europe whereby farmers may have carbon credits for the overall farm but part of their farm may be a mountainous Sitka spruce area in Leitrim and another part may be in a very lush and productive area elsewhere in the country. There are other considerations when it goes global or even pan-European. We must be careful about how we roll out carbon farming in terms of carbon trading. In the economy as it currently functions, there is potential for those who have less to be more exploited. In general terms, however, eco-schemes have the potential to increase carbon farming-type practices. This should certainly be taken up.


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