Green Party leader Ryan says there is “so little time left” to address the climate crisis as he unveils the reduced carbon target for farmers

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there was “so little time left” to address the climate crisis despite announcing lower carbon emissions targets than he was aiming for in talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

After weeks of talks with his coalition partners, Mr Ryan said the process was not about “winners and losers” as he unveiled the reduced target of 25 percent for the farm sector, despite the Greens wanting 30 percent.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue said farmers are ready for the cuts in carbon emissions and said the government will support them.

“People are obviously concerned about how we are going to move forward, but as government, we are very committed across sectors to supporting families, citizens and farming families to begin this journey,” he added.

Mr Ryan urged farmers and environmentalists to “start working together”.

The climate minister said the government could “speed up” its response to the looming climate catastrophe in the coming years.

“The scale of the challenge is such that we have to push it to the max,” said Ryan. “It’s such a critical time and there’s so little time left, but we’re going to start with that and we’re going to have a really strong start,” he added.

“We need the farming movement and the environmental movement to come together, and we’re coming together.”

Mr Ryan said the government will bring new income to farming communities across the country. He said government investments in solar power, biomethane gas and afforestation would benefit farmers.

An agreement was reached this afternoon between the coalition parties, with a cabinet memo stating that emissions from agriculture – responsible for almost 40 per cent of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions – will fall by 25 per cent by the end of the decade.

It will bring significant changes to farmers and farming practices in the years to come, with a major overhaul of Ireland’s farming and food sector.

Farmers will be incentivized to adopt more climate-friendly agricultural practices such as carbon storage, solar panel power generation and converting agricultural waste into gas.

Meanwhile, the target for commercial buildings is to reduce emissions by 45 percent and for residential buildings by 40 percent.

The target for the industry is 35 percent within the plan.

A number of incentives are also being prepared to encourage farmers and companies to take a more sustainable approach to their activities

Under the new climate plan, the government will commit to more than doubling the state’s target for solar power to 5.5 GW by incentivizing farmers to install solar panels on their land.

There will be a massive increase in renewable energy production through anaerobic digestion, which uses manure and grass from farms to reduce fossil fuel gas use by up to 15 percent

Tree planting, wetland restoration and soil carbon sequestration are also being strongly promoted.

The government has also agreed to increase the state’s offshore wind energy target from 5 GW to 7 GW, with the additional 2 GW earmarked for the supply of green hydrogen for power generation.

A Fine Gael source also stressed that the new schemes will be “entirely voluntary” for farmers, adding that there will be “no coercion or coercion”.

They added: “The government wants farmers to work with them.”

Fine Gael sources also stressed that there will be generous financial incentives for farmers to switch to more environmentally friendly farming practices.

Talks between the three leaders of the coalition parties and Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue had intensified over the past 48 hours to reach an agreement on a global climate plan before the end of this month.

In the final hours of negotiations, Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party, had been waiting for a 26 percent cut or more, while Mr McConalogue had pushed for a 24 percent cut by 2030.

A compromise on a 25 percent reduction is likely to draw criticism from environmentalists and farmers’ groups, with some backbenchers from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael also likely to need convincing to back the proposals.

The target for the energy sector is to be set at 75 percent, while the transport industry must cut emissions by 50 percent, according to plans to be agreed by Cabinet.

Green sources said the deal will result in agriculture cutting its emissions by 25 per cent, but with significant surcharges that will mean farmers will see further emissions savings in other sectors such as energy and land use.

The overall agreement commits to a significant expansion of anaerobic digestion – the conversion of agricultural waste into biogas, as well as the supply and deployment of an additional 2 gigawatts of offshore wind power and an additional 3 gigawatts of solar power on top of existing government commitments.

One gigawatt of energy is enough to supply almost a million households with electricity.

Mr Ryan is expected to make an announcement tonight on the first of its kind climate targets.

Minister McConalogue had urged the target for farmers to be kept as low as possible.

Talks have intensified over the past 24 hours on how to ensure the government’s target of reducing overall carbon emissions by 51 percent by 2030 can be met.

While the target for agribusiness has proven to be the most controversial, there has also been significant debate about the limits that should be set for other sectors such as transport, energy and industry.

The main concern of the discussion partners was the introduction of goals that can realistically be achieved by the affected sectors.

A number of incentives are also being prepared to encourage farmers and companies to take a more sustainable approach to their activities.

A so-called ‘acceleration team’ has been appointed within the Department for Transport to set in motion the necessary government policies needed to achieve significant reductions in road users’ CO2 emissions. Green Party leader Ryan says there is “so little time left” to address the climate crisis as he unveils the reduced carbon target for farmers

Fry Electronics Team

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