IFA seeks to delay climate change Bill


A LAST effort will be made by the Irish Farmers Association this week to prevent the passage of the Climate Change Response Bill when it meets Senators on Wednesday.

IFA president John Bryan has written to all Senators urging them to reject discussion on the Bill until after January 28th.

He said the Bill was being introduced before all stakeholders had an opportunity to comment on it before a deadline for comment by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

“IFA considers it highly disingenuous and undemocratic to ignore stakeholders by attempting to push this legislation through the Seanad before Senators themselves have become fully aware of stakeholders’ views following the public consultation process,” said the letter.

Saying the measures proposed would have a very significant impact on the country’s economic recovery, it put forward figures to show it could cost €4 billion.

The measures, he said, surpassed EU and international emission cuts by nearly 50 per cent and would decimate the national herd.

Teagasc figures showed a 30 per cent cut in carbon output would reduce the cattle population by almost 40 per cent and each 1 per cent cut in emissions would cost €30 million.

Mr Bryan, who will meet Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour Senators on Wednesday before the Bill is introduced on Thursday, said what was being proposed would increase international greenhouse gas emissions. This was because sustainable milk and beef produced in Ireland would be replaced by less carbon-efficient food produced on deforested Amazonian lands in South America.

“The measures are based on flawed and incomplete science because the accounting method used takes no account of the carbon sinks in grassland, forestry and renewable crops.

“In addition, there is no international agreement which ensures that the response to climate change addresses the issues of escalating food demand, dwindling water reserves and carbon leakage.”

The IFA proposed four principles which must be included as amendments to the legislation to safeguard the 270,000 jobs in the agri-food sector, the national beef herd, and the € 4 billion future growth of the indigenous industry identified in the Government’s Food Harvest 2020 strategy.

It said measures must give credit for current and future offsets generated by forestry, bio-energy, permanent grassland and other land uses up to 2020.

They must recognise Ireland’s role in the expansion of food production in an environmentally sustainable manner and guard against the negative global consequences of carbon leakage in other regions.

“An important opportunity exists for the Seanad to make a real difference for the country and our future prospects on this matter,” the letter concludes.