Farming carbon targets must be “at the high end”, stresses Green Party Minister Malcolm Noonan as leaders struggle to reach an agreement

COALITION talks to agree a substantial reduction in Ireland’s agricultural emissions over the next eight years will not conclude tonight (Wednesday).

Multiple government sources said while talks were ongoing and work was underway to draft a memo for the cabinet, negotiations on the exact emissions reduction target for agriculture — as part of a broader plan to cut the state’s emissions by 51 percent by 2030 — would not to be completed Wednesday night.

Earlier, a Green Party minister said the target to cut farm emissions must be set “at the high end” as coalition leaders seek to finalize an agreement on Ireland’s climate action plan.

Cabinet completed its last scheduled meeting before the summer recess this morning without agreement on the state’s emissions ceilings by the end of the decade, but the three party leaders are meeting at Dublin Castle to break the deadlock on farm emissions.

In light of the ongoing talks, Green Party Minister of State Malcolm Noonan said “I’m not going to speculate on a number, but it has to be on the high end. We have the opportunity to generate co-benefits for climate, nature and water through results-based payments to farmers, and to maintain and increase family farm income.”

The comments represent a further escalation in the Greens’ call for a higher target to reduce agricultural emissions, to be agreed before the end of the month.

Government sources said if an agreement were reached today, another cabinet meeting would be required later. This would likely be done disembodied, with ministers individually called by a government official and asked to agree to the decision.

Emerging from the post-cabinet talks on the agriculture emissions target, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “We’re still working on it.

“Hopefully we get there.”

Taoiseach and Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue made no comment as they left Dublin Castle at midday – with the exception of the latter, who offered a smile and a thumbs-up for the cameras.

Meanwhile, former Agriculture Secretary Barry Cowen has called for a decision on the issue to be postponed until the autumn. Speak with Independent.iesaid the Fianna Fáil TD: “[It] It might be best for all involved if the final decision comes in the autumn when our respective parties can participate and take greater responsibility for any solution supported by the three parties.”

Government sources said there was still hope – but no guarantee – that a deal could be imminent, although others indicated a pause was needed and the matter could be postponed until September.

“It’s taking a little while, but I’m confident we can reach an agreement today,” Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan said on his way to the cabinet meeting earlier.

The failure to agree on a target for the sector responsible for nearly 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions is holding up a government agreement on targets for all sectors of the economy as part of its legally binding commitment to reduce emissions by 51 percent 2030 on .

While Mr Ryan, leader of the Greens, is pushing for a maximum 30 per cent cut from agriculture by the end of the decade, Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue – who is under pressure from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the farming lobby – wants a lower target.

A compromise between 24 percent and 26 percent is still being negotiated, it is assumed.

Mr Noonan said he was confident the Government could work with farmers and civil society to take swift and meaningful action for Ireland’s climate and nature.

“Farmers are concerned and we must reassure them that we will support them. It’s not about pointing fingers or playing one sector off against another,” said the Heritage Minister.

“Climate change is upon us, wreaking havoc across Europe this summer. We must work collectively and creatively to protect lives and livelihoods.

“Agriculture in Ireland plays a crucial role in food security and mutual benefits for climate, nature and water. I really hope we can come to an agreement and move forward together.”

Mr Cowen said the government programme, which he helped negotiate two years ago, made explicit reference to the special position of agriculture in relation to climate change plans.

“These points were then an indication that the Greens need to understand that we want to bring farmers, their representatives and industry with us, not kick and shout but united with clear, achievable goals,” he said. Farming carbon targets must be “at the high end”, stresses Green Party Minister Malcolm Noonan as leaders struggle to reach an agreement

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