The benefits of the climate targets are obvious, but we need support


Climate change is not the end of the world. Or at least climate protection does not have to be. That is Deputy Agriculture Secretary Martin Heydon’s message to farmers. In today’s Irish Independent interview, the Fine Gael TD warns of “catastrophizing” when it comes to action to reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2030.

He paints a vision that is more carrot than stick. Farmers earn up to €8,000 a year by selling solar energy back to the grid. Production of gas and heat from general waste. Grow “grass for gas”. Applying for subsidies for organic products.

Such measures would undoubtedly facilitate the transition to lower emissions. But they are by no means the whole picture. As recounted by Gary Lanigan, Teagasc’s Principal Research Director Independent Farming today it would be “very challenging” for Irish agriculture to reduce its emissions by 25 per cent through science alone. What about those cattle numbers? Again, we’ll have to wait for the details.

Last Thursday’s deal came after a long process of discussion and preparation, so it’s surprising that no detailed plans could be presented to farmers for consideration.

It is now necessary to abandon the recent bitter quarrels

The Farmers Union of Ireland will hold an online briefing session on the climate change package tomorrow evening. One wonders how much their leaders can tell their members, as details have been few.

Agriculture is of course not the only sector that needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The target for power generation is 75 percent; There are 50 pieces for transport. Emissions from commercial and public buildings must fall by 45 percent. For private households, the target is 40 percent. The industry has a 35 percent target.

It is now necessary to abandon the recent bitter quarrels. The motto must be “implementation” because this planet is burning and future generations risk paying a high price soon. This is not a question.

Hopes for a purely scientific solution to climate change remain just that – hopes. The danger is that the country’s climate goals will always remain the same in the end: vague ambitions with little substance. Ireland may only be the second country to declare a climate emergency in 2019, but it has yet to take action.

Effective climate action plans will transform everyone’s life, and the public deserves more information, delivered quickly.

The road to net zero by 2050 has never been easy. In one respect Mr Heydon is right when he upholds the positive aspects of climate protection. The advantages are manifold, not only in agriculture and not only worldwide.

Better public transport, more cycle paths, cleaner air, less waste, more biodiversity, new jobs in green energy: none of this should be a hard sell.

But there will also be sacrifices and no one should pretend otherwise. Least of all the government that sets these goals.

These plans require appropriate public approval. Clear information in understandable everyday language is essential for this. The benefits of the climate targets are obvious, but we need support

Fry Electronics Team

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