Tough talks on emissions continue as the Greens demand bigger cuts than Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are willing to meet

Coalition climate talks to agree a significant cut in farm emissions continued last night, with the Greens calling for bigger cuts than Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were willing to admit.

While an agreement should have moved closer last night – and could be agreed as early as today – after intensive negotiations between the coalition leaders, their advisers and officials last night, there was no comprehensive agreement last night.

As the Greens strive to agree on ambitious greenhouse gas emissions cuts as soon as possible,
Coalition sources said progress had been made in drafting a memo for the cabinet, with some suggesting it was largely complete.

The only outstanding issue is said to be final agreement on how much emissions from agriculture, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of all emissions from the state, will fall by 2030.

A coalition source expressed frustration at the rush to try and reach an agreement before the end of the month.

Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan is calling for a 26 percent or more reduction in agriculture, while Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue is pushing for a maximum reduction of 24 percent by 2030.

The range for the climate protection plan is between 22 and 30 percent.

A coalition source with knowledge of the deliberations said this impasse would ultimately be resolved by the three party leaders – Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Mr Ryan.

However, a 25 percent compromise would still prove a challenge for coalition parties to sell to their bases.

Some backbenchers from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, along with the powerful farming lobby, have opposed going beyond 22 percent.

This was announced by Secretary of State Malcolm Noonan Irish Independent the target for agriculture “must be at the high end”, while his party leader, Senator Pauline O’Reilly, suggested in an interview with RTÉ that the Greens could leave the coalition if the target for agriculture were set too low .

Elsewhere, former Agriculture Secretary Barry Cowen called on the three parties to delay reaching a deal.

“It might be best for all involved if the final decision comes in the fall, when our respective parties can participate and take greater responsibility for any solution supported by the three parties,” Fianna Fáil’s TD said.

A failure in recent weeks to set a target to reduce emissions from agriculture has held up agreement on an overall agreement on targets for each economic sector to enable the state to meet its legally binding commitment to reduce Ireland’s emissions by 51 per cent by 2030.

Mr Noonan, the heritage minister, said: “I’m not going to speculate on a number but it has to be on the higher 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 the agricultural income of family farms.”

He said he is confident the government can work with farmers and civil society to take swift and meaningful action on climate change.

“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,” he added.

It also showed that less than half of all climate-related tasks that were scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of this year were achieved.

Only 45 percent of the 277 separate jobs to be completed between March and June this year under the climate action plan agreed late last year have been achieved.

Asked if the high failure rate of 55 per cent goes against the Greens’ call for farmers to do more, a spokesman for Eamon Ryan said: “This underscores the importance of us all getting behind the wheel .” Tough talks on emissions continue as the Greens demand bigger cuts than Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are willing to meet

Fry Electronics Team

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