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HomeFarming NewsOpinion: The farmer bashing must stop
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Opinion: The farmer bashing must stop

Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, discusses why he believes the “wave of lunacy” around climate change is “breathtaking”.

Over the weekend, world leaders visited Rome, Italy, as part of the G20 summit, travelling on private jets from across the globe and taking part in elaborate cavalcades of 85 vehicles.

Next, they sat aboard these planes again and flew to Glasgow in Scotland to attend COP26.

How do these people not see the irony of it all? Were they absent for the last two years as the rest of us became accustomed to using Zoom and other platforms to facilitate meetings?

For example, if you take Joe Biden, his participation in G20 and COP26 will mean a 10,000-mile roundtrip from Washington to Rome and then home again via Glasgow.

But as is customary with US presidents, he won’t be flying in economy class. Instead, his fleet consists of Air Force One, a Boeing 747, which carries the president, an identical decoy and two cargo planes to accommodate his stream of vehicles.

In Rome, President Biden sat into his Cadillac named the ‘Beast’. This is an apt name, given it only does about eight miles to the gallon.

As part of the entourage, another identical decoy vehicle and 80 other cars – some of which flew in from the States – joined the Beast.

One estimate indicated that Biden’s trip to both international events would generate approximately 2.2 million pounds of carbon, which is almost 100t.

While the amount of carbon a person creates in a year varies depending on where you live, globally, the average stands at about 4t per annum.

2t every year 

Reports indicate that the minimum a person produces, from the moment food, is grown to when they consume it, is 2t every year.

It was reported in the media that in the region of 40,000 people have attended the COP26 event. It expects more over the 2-week event.

Meanwhile, it is believed that 400 private jets will transport politicians and business executives in and out of the UK for the climate event, emitting an estimated 2t of carbon for every hour in the air.

And yet, fuel for planes and ships seems to be escaping from the carbon tax.

As it stands, about two-thirds of people live in urban areas in Ireland. But while cities only represent 3% of land cover globally, they account for 70% of global energy consumption and 75% of global CO2 emissions.

And despite the world population continuing to grow, some of the proposals being discussed at COP26 could limit food production.

Afforestation 

In the next 30 years, the global population is set to grow by almost 2 billion people. If we begin to limit food production, how do we expect to feed these people? A major reality check needs to happen when planning for the future.

One item that needs to be addressed is the Mercosur trade deal. We all know the importance of the Amazon rainforest when it comes to climate change.

In 2020, it is reported that 1.7 million hectares of primary forest were lost in Brazil. This is a 25% increase from the previous year.

Over 300,000 cattle from ranches with “irregularities”

A recent audit of JBS SA, the world’s largest meatpacker, noted that nearly a third of the cattle the company bought – over 300,000 head – in the Brazilian Amazon state of Para came from ranches with “irregularities” such as illegal deforestation.

How can we suggest limiting food production in sustainable parts of the world, while simultaneously encouraging deforestation in another?

When you look at league tables, Ireland is far from table toppers. If you look at the worst polluters, China tops the charts with 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The US comes second with 4.9 million tonnes of CO2 emitted, while India sits in third with 2.4 million tonnes. Meanwhile, Ireland produced closer to 60 million tonnes – that’s quite a difference.

Decarbonising the transport sector

This week, the Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced, what I believe to be unattainable plans when it comes to decarbonising the transport sector.

The wish list includes:

  • electrifying bus routes;
  • 2,000 extra on-street charging points for electric vehicles;
  • Retrofitting 75,000 homes per year.

And while I accept that technology will progress and help us to reach some targets, we must be more realistic. Show me a lorry that is powered by electricity; they are not available yet.

When you look at the power situation in Ireland, both Eirgrid and this Government have acknowledged the already significant burden on power generation in this country.

Last week, several plants were down across the country. Eirgrid previously confirmed that there was a real possibility of planned power outages this winter if demand outgrew supply.

And yet here we are talking about putting more and more electric vehicles on the road.

The idea of achieving retrofitting 75,000 houses per year is also fanciful. W cannot meet our house building targets.

Climate change debate

The wave of lunacy around the climate change debate is just breathtaking. People need to come back down to earth and stop living in the clouds.

The facts are that if the population continues to grow, we must be able to feed them.

This food should be produced in countries where it is sustainable to do so. It should not involve the illegal deforestation of a rainforest.

Instead of kicking the daylights out of farmers at every turn, maybe we should recognise what they are already doing for the economy and environment.

Farmers are prepared to put their shoulder to the wheel, but the farmer bashing must stop.

And if the migration of people to cities and urban areas is to reach 70% in the coming decades, one would have to wonder if the manpower will be left in rural areas to continue to feed the rest of the world.

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