In this article, ICOS president, James O’Donnell, expresses concerns over a 25% target reduction in ag emissions.
I am expressing my extreme concern about the 25% emission reduction target the government has set without a coherent plan for its delivery.
ICOS, as the representative body for the co-operative movement and representative body for the dairy co-operative and mart sectors, recognises the responsibility to reduce emissions to prevent global climate change.
That said, we must balance the goal of reducing emissions against the need to protect food security and the viability of our rural businesses and communities.
The target set is legally binding, and the sector must meet it. This will result in significant change at farm and co-op level as a result.
We need to be honest about the implications. Unfortunately, again, we see a target without a concrete plan as to how we will achieve the target.
The reality is that there is no clear pathway to a 25% reduction in emissions from agriculture without new technologies and innovation.
Co-ops are responsible businesses, and we have an important role in supporting and helping our shareholders with our sustainability goals, which we are currently doing, and this will intensify over the coming period.
Odds stacked against agriculture
There are measures that we need to progress urgently. These include the widespread use of protected urea in the short to medium-term, for example.
However, be in no doubt. The odds are stacked against agriculture in its efforts to reduce emissions. The current accounting framework for emissions is not fit for purpose.
Farmers and the sector will not get credit for adopting renewable energy. Also, they will they get credit for sequestration from grassland and hedgerows.
This remains an unacceptable element of the government’s approach to climate change.
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