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Eamon Ryan: Climate policies “good for Irish agriculture”

Change is never easy – but Green policies are ultimately good for Irish agriculture.

That’s according to Climate Minister Eamon Ryan, who said that he believes Ireland’s Climate Action law and sectoral emissions targets are “very good” as currently laid out.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner on Sunday, the Dublin Bay South TD explained his view.

“We are in a very good place in terms of doing a lot of the work in the last two years to set things up,” he said.

“We have a very good climate law which we introduced a year and a half ago. Last summer, we set up sectoral targets of specific ambition in energy and transport and agriculture, and so on.”

Last summer the government declared significant carbon emissions cuts targets for various sectors of the economy, including Irish agriculture.

Much deliberation was held at the time over how much farmers should be expected to reduce their emissions by. While Fianna Fáil Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue initially pushed for a cut of 22%, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan wanted to go as high as 30%.

Ultimately the coalition settled on a compromise figure of 25%.

The move was highly controversial at the time among some farmers, with Independent TD Michael Collins saying that the move had created “fury” among agricultural communities.

“I’ve been speaking to many farmers this evening and over the last few days,” he said at the time.

“Quite a few of them are cancelling [orders on] machinery and goods which they intended to buy for the future good of their farm.”

He said that even the lower 22% target proposed by Minister McConalogue was “shocking,” arguing that “There should be no percent, to be quite honest with you.”

However, over the weekend Ryan said that Ireland did not have a choice but to pursue such policies, due primarily to Irish and European law.

“We don’t have any choice, he said.

“Failure is not an option because of the nature of this Irish law but also the reality of European law and European policies that are perhaps even more ambitious, in terms of scale and speed, and need for change.”

While he conceded that “change is never easy,” especially at this scale, he added that the measures being imposed would ultimately be “good for the country.”

“It’s not a hardship, it’s a positive development, and solutions on the climate side will be good for us. It will be good for security, it will be good for creating employment, it’s good for Irish agriculture.”

Government Ministers have frequently discussed the inevitability and necessity to move towards climate policies, with Defence Minister Simon Coveney saying last year that “it’s only a matter of time before we have carbon labelling” on food products such as meat and dairy.

“If anybody thinks that we are helping rural Ireland by ignoring the realities of climate change,” Coveney said in November, “then I think they’re mistaken, and I think it’s important to say that honestly.”

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.”


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