From:                                             Rogier Schulte [Rogier.Schulte@teagasc.ie]

Sent:                                               23 April 2015 20:19

To:                                                  2025strategy

Cc:                                                   McKiernan, Paul; Frank OMara; Paddy Browne

Subject:                                         FW: Environmental Analysis of Agri Food 2025 Strategy

 

A Chara,

 

I refer to your email earlier today regarding the Consultation for Scoping of Environmental Report for Agri-Food Strategy 2025.

 

As a direct follow-up to the scoping workshop hosted by DAFM on 9 April, I forwarded our observations directly to Mr Paul McKiernan (cc’ed).

I am now forwarding this email to you to ensure we follow the formal process – please see below for our observations.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further clarification.

 

Kind regards

 

Rogier

_______________________

Prof Dr RPO Schulte

Leader – Translational Research on Sustainable Food Production

Chair – FAO Partnership on Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP)

Chair – Teagasc Working Group on GHG Emissions

Secretary – International Food Security Committee

Teagasc the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland

Adjunct Professor – Latvia University of Agriculture

+353 539171200 ǀ Skype: Rogier.Schulte ǀTwitter: @RogierSchulte

 

 

 

From: Rogier Schulte
Sent: 15 April 2015 12:42
To: paul.mckiernan@agriculture.gov.ie
Cc: Frank OMara; Paddy Browne
Subject: Environmental Analysis of Agri Food 2025 Strategy

 

Dear Paul,

 

I am following up on last week’s productive workshop on the Environmental Analysis of the Agri Food 2025 Strategy.

 

At the meeting, I made five significant contributions that were discussed and that received broad consensus from the attendees. At the end of the meeting, the consultants asked me to put these suggestions on record. The following is my synopsis and I would be grateful if you could share these with the consultants:

 

1.      Maintain the phrase ‘Sustainable Intensification’: at the meeting the consultants indicated that linguistic shortcomings of the phrase ‘Sustainable Intensification’ and suggested to avoid its use in the Agri-Food 2025 Strategy. However, following the subsequent discussion, there was broad consensus that the phrase ‘Sustainable Intensification’ is an international concept that contrasts “intensification with no consideration to sustainability criteria” with “intensification with consideration of sustainability criteria”. We agreed that any ‘censoring’ of the phrase would disconnect the Agri Food 2025 Strategy from a very large body of international scientific and technical knowledge and literature. In other words: we could lose more than we would gain. The group agreed that the use of the phrase ‘Sustainable Intensification’ must be maintained, but that there is merit in providing a detailed definition upfront. There are multiple definitions available – I can help with categorising these if required.

 

2.      Take greenhouse gas emissions out of the AA: Greenhouse gas emissions should be a central feature of the SEA, but should not be included in the AA. They are important in the SEA, because there is possibility / likelihood that the Agri Food 2025 Strategy may / could result in a significant change in the GHG emissions from Irish agriculture, i.e. a change that is larger than any random fluctuations that may occur. Put differently: it is likely / possible that the ‘signal’ will exceed the ‘noise’.
However, within an AA, it will be virtually impossible to demonstrate how a change in GHG emissions from Irish agriculture will change the climate change impacts on Irish habitats. Consider the following scenario, where emissions from Irish agriculture would increase by 1Mt (a 5% increase). Current total global anthropogenic emissions currently equate to circa 50 Gt (varies a bit between 49 and 52, depending on which calculation method is used) (see: https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf). That means that the change in emissions from Irish agriculture would increase global emissions from 50,000 Mt to 50,001 Mt, a change of 0.002%. The impact of this 0.002% change on e.g. global temperature / rainfall patterns will be difficult to establish (the ‘signal’ will be drowned by the ‘noise’), let alone the impact of this 0.002% change on local Irish habitats. At this point in time, there is still a large degree of uncertainty how exactly climatic change will manifest itself in Ireland (models for Ireland still display options of both “drier” and “wetter”). Therefore, there is even more uncertainty in how a 0.002% amplification of climate change would manifest itself. Therefore, it is not appropriate to include GHG in the AA. Note, however, that the same logic does not apply to ammonia: unlike methane, N2O and CO2, ammonia can be deposited locally / regionally and must therefore be taken into account in an AA.

 

3.      Define type of baseline (spatial, temporal, scenario): In assessing ‘environmental impact’, there is potential for confusion that relates to the choice of baseline. During our discussions, we identified three types of baselines:

a.      Spatial: for example, comparisons with other jurisdictions, e.g.: compared to other EU countries, water quality and biodiversity in Ireland is relative good. This assessment is usually based on attributional Life Cycle Assessment (aLCA)

b.     Temporal: comparison over time, e.g.: water quality in Ireland is improving slightly, but for biodiversity, the conservation status of many habitats is unfavourable

c.      Scenario: comparison with an alternative scenario, e.g. compared to a different Agri Food 2025 scenario, the chosen scenario will… This last analysis touches on consequential Life Cycle Assessment (cLCA), which is a powerful, but newly emerging assessment tool.

It is important that the Environment Assessment of the Agri Food 2025 Strategy clearly defines the type of baseline used for each assessment, to avoid confusion. There may be merit in including multiple baselines and associated analyses.

 

4.      Liaise with Catchment Programme re Water Quality Assessment

The Teagasc Agricultural Catchments Programme, funded by DAFM, is elucidating new evidence and findings on the relationships between farm management, bio-physical farm parameters, and water quality. There will be great merit for the Environmental Analysis to draw on their latest research findings, as communicated during the recent “Catchment Science for Policy” Conference.

 

5.      Liaise with NWPS / DoE re prioritisation of Pearl Mussel Catchments.

The Freshwater Pearl Mussel is likely to play a central role in the interactions between agriculture and European sites. To the best of my knowledge the NWPS (or their parent Department) has submitted a paper to the European Commission with a proposal to rank the Fresh Water Pearl Mussel sites in order of priority – with associated management options. There would be merit in liaising with NPWS regarding the status of this paper and its review by the European Commission.

 

Thank you and kind regards

 

Rogier

________________

Prof Dr RPO Schulte

Leader – Translational Research on Sustainable Food Production

Chair – FAO Partnership on Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP)

Chair – Teagasc Working Group on GHG Emissions

Secretary – International Food Security Committee

Teagasc the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland

Adjunct Professor – Latvia University of Agriculture

+353 539171200 ǀ Skype: Rogier.Schulte ǀTwitter: @RogierSchulte

 

 

 

 

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