Ireland’s livestock agriculture and State’s land-use policy criticised

Report says amount of methane produced per head of cattle has increased since 1990

Ireland’s livestock agriculture is less climate-change efficient than the European average and the State’s land-use policy is neither climate-smart or sustainable, a new report claims.

Irish agriculture is less efficient than the authorities claim and compares poorly to other European countries in terms of “the level of green house gasses emitted per calorie of bovine food produced”, the report by the civil society and environment umbrella groups Stop Climate Chaos and the Environmental Pillar says.

“Not So Green: Debunking the Myths around Irish Agriculture” also claims the amount of methane produced per head of cattle has increased in Ireland since 1990.

It warns that the preservation of Ireland’s peatlands “needs to be a far higher priority than afforestation. Climate action requires a halt to peat extraction”.


Stop Climate Chaos spokeswoman Catherine Devitt said “due to increasing emissions the livestock sector is actively contribution to increased climate pollution and global food insecurity”.

Oonagh Duggan, policy officer with BirdWatch Ireland, which is part of the Environmental Pillar, said “the claims of sustainability in agriculture that we hear about regularly are not substantiated by the reality for many upland and lowland farmland birds and other environmental or sustainability indicators”.

The report identifies what it calls “glaring inadequacies” in the Government’s claim that afforestation presents a viable option to offset increasing emissions from the agricultural sector. It warns that “continued coniferous afforestation and timber harvesting on the existing model also present significant threats to Ireland’s biodiversity and water quality”.

The report comes just days before the European Commission publishes is proposed national shares of the EU’s 2030 target for emission reduction.

It follows another report last week critical of the planned expansion of food production outlined in the Government’s Food Wise 2025 strategy, suggesting it runs counter to the goal of achieving a carbon neutral sector by 2050.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times