Agriculture and climate crisis


Sir, – A recent report from the EU Court of Auditors states that Ireland has one of the highest greenhouse gas emissions per hectare of agricultural land in the EU.

A previous EU report in 2017, examining the agricultural output value for every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, found that Ireland was the worst in Europe.

Reduction in emissions of methane is a key factor in keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees centigrade.

Methane is 81 times more warming as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and only remains in the atmosphere for 12 years. The gas’s combined potency and short atmospheric life means that cuts in emissions have an almost immediate benefit.

This factor does not appear in the current discussions on the five-year carbon budget, where agriculture, although the largest emitter, will be asked to make the smallest cuts, with a target 21 to 30 per cent proposed.

The key to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture is a reduction in the national herd. Current EU subsidy payment schemes maximise productivity and minimise nature preservation. The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) funds devoted to climate action (€100 billion) have not resulted in a reduction in livestock numbers and have had little impact on emissions.

CAP reforms that financially reward results-based ecosystem-preservation, in alignment with food production, would facilitate a move away from beef and dairy agriculture to regenerative farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase total food output and maximise profitability. – Yours, etc,