Climate change and emissions

Sir, – I refer to your editorial"A narrow view of national interest" (July 3rd) which states "The Department of Agriculture estimates that emissions from the beef and dairy sector will increase by about one-third by 2020." This is not an accurate reflection of current projections. According to the latest EPA greenhouse gas emission projections 2014-2035, agriculture emissions are projected to increase 2 per cent by 2020 on current levels. This reflects the achievement of Food Harvest 2020 targets and removal of the milk quota regime in 2015.

Relative to 2005, agriculture emissions are projected to decrease by 5 per cent by 2020.

– Yours, etc,


Department of Agriculture,

Food and the Marine,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – While commenting on my article of ("Climate focus on farm emissions is misguided", July 1st) Justin Kilcullen (Letters, July 4th) takes no issue where I spoke as a scientist.

I presented the scientific reasons why I do not agree that we are currently facing a planetary emergency requiring the abandoning of vital national interests when climate legislation is being considered. This was written against the background of a recent conference that advocated drastic cuts in Ireland’s agricultural emissions.

The part of my article which Mr Kilcullen takes issue is where I spoke as an Irish citizen saying that I argue Ireland should remain a low-emissions food producer and exporter “in the interests of EU and world food security”.

However, the full sentence is as follows: “It is our government’s national duty to do its utmost to maintain Ireland’s position as a low-emissions food producer and exporter – a vital matter of national interest, but also in the interests of EU and world food security.”

It is clear my foremost concern was with Ireland’s vital national interests. Maintaining our agri-food sector, which underpins 170,000 jobs, is a vital national interest. Over 90 per cent of the principal outputs of this sector – dairy products and beef – are exported.

Given the growing international demand for these foods, any action by the Government to accede to the recent calls for curtailed Irish production would only result in the production moving elsewhere, with a consequent increase in global emissions. Would such action be rational? – Yours, etc,


Meteorology and

Climate Centre,


Dublin 4.