Last week Defence and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney was confronted by a frustrated member of the public regarding the Climate Action Bill and its impact on rural Ireland.
During the meeting, the Minister said that “it’s only a matter of time before we have carbon labelling” on Irish food products.
Coveney, who is a TD for Cork South-Central, was speaking last Friday evening about Ireland’s food production industry at a Fine Gael meeting in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork.
However, during a Q&A section of the meeting, a man who identified himself as Peter O’Donoghue took the floor to question the Minister on his government’s climate policy, dubbing it “disastrous.”
“EVERY MEMBER OF FINE GAEL VOTED FOR THAT”
“When you started here this evening, you told us that Fine Gael was a party for the people of rural Ireland, and the farming people of Ireland,” the man said.
“But in June of 2021, the Climate Action Bill came before the Dáil. Every member of Fine Gael voted for that.”
The questioner then went out to outlined his objections to the Climate Action policy as it has been implemented.
“INSANE GREEN POLICIES”
“What the Climate Action Bill was, is it is the corner stone of all the insane green policies that we are seeing at this moment and at this time.
“What are the consequences of the Climate Action Bill? There’s people in their houses tonight in rural Ireland who have no fire and no heat as a result of that bill tonight. A few days ago coal was banned in this country…turf is being banned. The commercial sale and advertising of turf is being banned.”
“DISASTROUS AND A DISGRACE”
The man also mentioned the controversial emissions cut targets for Irish agriculture, which many rural TDs have argued are too high.
“You talk about 25% emissions cuts [for agriculture],” he said.
“Emissions equals productivity. You’re talking about a 25% production cut in Irish agricultural farming. And that is absolutely disastrous and a disgrace.
“The Climate Action Bill was an attack on rural Ireland, and the farming people of Ireland. And Minister Coveney, I’m asking you now…why did every member of Fine Gael vote for that disastrous bill for rural Ireland?”
“IGNORING THE REALITIES OF CLIMATE CHANGE”
Following the question there was a long pause and murmuring, prompting the man to add “Can I get an answer please?”
Ultimately, after an eventual sound check, Minister Coveney responded that “long before the Green Party were in government,” Fine Gael was concerned about Ireland’s climate obligations and how food is produced.
“If anybody thinks that we are helping rural Ireland by ignoring the realities of climate change,” said Coveney, “then I think they’re mistaken, and I think it’s important to say that honestly.”
Coveney said that it was important to “adapt” to the new realities, while putting “billions of euros” into agriculture to make farming “profitable” and make it “work for Ireland.”
“That’s the honest answer here,” he said.
CARBON LABELLING ON ALL MEAT AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
The Minister went on to say that Ireland could not “ignore what’s happening everywhere else in the developed world,” and that foreign consumers would start to demand low-carbon foods.
“What will happen is, Irish produce that you produce on your farms will be worth less, and will be demanded less in other parts of the world, because people will insist.
“The Taoiseach said earlier, it’s only a matter of time before we have carbon labelling on all dairy products, on all meat products. Like, this is the truth.”
“A MAJOR REVOLUTION”
“Carbon labelling” has been proposed as far back as 2021, with the Labour Party putting forward a bill which would allow consumers to see the carbon footprint of each product they purchase at shops and make more “sustainable choices.”
'The famous avocado has a major carbon impact, but so does Brazilian beef' https://t.co/XGuk883whI
— Agriland (@AgrilandIreland) November 18, 2021
However, Independent TD Michael Collins hit out strongly at the policy at the time it was proposed.
“This policy has the potential to put hundreds of small food and artisan producers in Ireland out of business due to red tape compliance and transaction costs,” he said last year.
“On a practical level, most farmers, food processors, hauliers and shop owners have never considered the carbon content of their work…It is likely that large-scale and multinational manufacturers will be better informed but, even so, a requirement to provide carbon statistics would create a major revolution.”