Ireland to join international effort to develop technologies to reduce cattle methane emissions

Heydon to announce breakthrough in how to select and breed lower methane-emitting cattle at Washington conference

The Government is to join an international effort to develop technologies to reduce cattle methane emissions. Minister of State for Agriculture Martin Heydon is also expected to tell a climate summit in Washington, US, on Monday that Ireland is to spend significantly more on climate-related agriculture and food systems research in the years ahead.

In an address to the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) Summit, he is expected to say that Ireland “recognises that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face globally, and that tackling it requires international collaboration”.

“Ireland previously committed to increasing investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems research by 40 per cent over the period from 2021 to 2025. At this summit, I am announcing our intention to further increase this, to 60 per cent,” Mr Heydon is expected to tell the conference. “Our increased ambition will provide for an increase of just under €9.5 million compared to 2020, and it will bring our total investment in climate-related research to over €25 million out to 2025.″

However, he is also likely to argue that “even more science, research, and innovation in our food production systems (is needed) to ensure not only that we continue to produce food but also that we do so more sustainably”.


Mr Heydon will tell the conference that the GreenBreed project, which received €3 million in funding from his department, “had a major breakthrough in how to select and breed lower methane-emitting cattle”.

He is expected to set out the Government’s intention to “join the Aim for Climate Innovation Sprint known as the ‘Enteric Fermentation R&D Accelerator’.”

“The focus areas of the sprint, which include feed additives and genetic tools to reduce methane emissions, are well aligned with Ireland’s existing research priorities,” the Minister is expected to say in his address to the Washington conference. “We know there are promising technologies in development; we now need to accelerate their deployment across industry and at farm level.”

Mr Heydon is also expected to announce a collaboration between Irish Aid and its equivalent organisation in the US, known as USAID, to develop sustainable food systems in Malawi. In his recent visit to Ireland US president Joe Biden referred to strong collaboration with Ireland on food security and child malnutrition.

“Building on this I am delighted to announce that with USAID we will together invest $75 million in Malawi under an AIM for Climate Innovation Sprint to support the transformation of food systems to become more climate resilient, promote green energy transition and provide more nutritious, safe food, as well as an adequate income for smallholder farmers, especially female farmers,” Mr Heydon will say.

“The initiative will also support strengthened food safety and enterprise development, including support for food technology and quality standards through Sustainable Food Systems Ireland, a partnership of Irish Government agencies.”

The AIM4C is a joint initiative by the US and United Arab Emirates, established in 2021. Its goal is to address climate change and global hunger by uniting participants to significantly increase investment in, and other support for, climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over five years up to 2025.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent