The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, T.D., has today launched a National ‘Climate & Air Roadmap’ for the Agriculture Sector entitled Ag Climatise. The roadmap sets an ambitious vision for a ‘climate neutral agriculture sector by 2050’ and includes 29 actions with specific and challenging targets aimed at reducing the environmental footprint and further building on the strong credentials of Irish Agriculture.
Minister McConalogue stated, “I am delighted to present the Ag Climatise roadmap of tangible actions which will support the continued development of a modern, environmentally sustainable, agricultural sector and which has been developed with farmers at is core. This roadmap follows extensive engagement with all stakeholders and identifies key pathways and targets for improving the climate and air footprint of our sector. Irish Agriculture has a strong reputation for the safety and environmental sustainability of its produce and this roadmap challenges us to build on this reputation. We need to start doing this today, and it is with this firmly in mind that I am publishing this roadmap now.”
The Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, also welcomed the launch of the Ag Climatise roadmap, recognising it as the beginning of the action needed to ensure the sustainable development of the agriculture and land-use sector.
She said, “The roadmap includes some ambitious actions on reducing emissions and puts a focus on alternative land uses, sequestration, and renewable energy. Greenhouse Gas and Ammonia Emissions from the sector have been going in the wrong direction. We need a clear pathway to reverse this trend, and this roadmap sets us on that path.’’
Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon T.D., noted that the agriculture sector is the first sector to produce such a detailed plan to reduce the climate impact of its activities, and that a key objective is to better explain what the sector is doing in this space. He said the publication of Ag Climatise meets an important Programme for Government commitment to publish a roadmap to ensure the sustainable development of the agriculture and land-use sector.
He stated, “Farmers are custodians of the landscape and are already doing a lot in this space. There is more to be done, and our climate ambition can only be achieved by working closely with our farmers. This roadmap provides the needed platform to increase our focus on environmental sustainability and to explore new developments with the farmer at the centre of our plans.”
The actions in the roadmap are primarily based on the Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACC) regarding greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. Other actions proposed are based on a public consultation exercise which launched in late 2019 which generated 100 written submission and 400 on-line responses. Further in-person and virtual stakeholder events took place during Q1 and Q2 of 2020.
The roadmap is very much a ‘living document’, with a clear commitment to engaging with stakeholders on achieving what are no-doubt very challenging targets in key areas such as reducing fertiliser use and increasing use of low emission manure spreading technology. Delivery on these actions will require engagement and collaboration amongst all the stakeholders including farmers, farm bodies, industry and stakeholders to deliver on these challenging targets.
The roadmap also contains a number of cross cutting actions in this regard, including further research and innovation to identify added opportunities.
Minister McConalogue concluded, ‘‘The Department will continue to engage collaboratively and will establish expert groups to oversee the development and implementation of actions where a path to delivery is unclear. Additionally as science and innovation continue to develop climate solutions, there will be further opportunities to support and develop the environmental credentials of what is our most important native industry. Our farmers and food producers continue to engage positively and proactively in terms of tackling climate change and I commend them for their continued commitment to this cause.’’