Thursday, 28 November 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
193. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures he plans to implement to reward farmers for farming carbon on blanket bogs or peaty soils under grassland in private ownership in the near future in order that Ireland can avail of land, land-use change, and forestry flexibilities from 2021 in view of the annual carbon losses from peatlands which in total amount to more emissions than from the entire transport sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49603/19]
My Department recognises wetlands and peat soils as an important carbon pool in the Irish landscape. Reducing emissions by water table manipulation has the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions from these soils and is a means to positively contribute to our climate change mitigation ambitions. This is an important part of Agriculture's contribution to the emission reductions and is set out in the All of Government Climate Action Plan, released in June 2019, as highlighted in the targets set for the Agriculture, Forestry and Land-use sector.
In this respect, the Climate Action Plan sets out a target of at least 40,000 ha of reduced management intensity of grasslands on drained organic soils to 2030.This will contribute 4.4 Mt CO2eq cumulative abatement of the overall target of 26.8 Mt CO2eq abatement through Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry actions over the period 2021 to 2030. The removal of carbon from the atmosphere through measures such as afforestation and the reduced management of peatlands are extremely important contributions towards achieving our national climate targets.
Action 132 of the Climate Action Plan demonstrates the necessary steps we must take to reach these targets and includes the identification of carbon rich soils currently under agricultural management as well as the actions required to reduce carbon losses and improve sequestration from them. My Department has been assigned €3 million to carry out relevant research in respect of carbon removal, which will include at its forefront peatland management measures. My Department will engage with farmers as to how to implement and understand the best management practices for better management of peatlands and their carbon rich soils.