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Coveney Welcomes and Highlights EU Leaders Decisions on Agriculture and Climate Change

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD today said that the EU had taken an important step forward in developing a coherent policy on food security and climate change at the European Council meeting yesterday.  

“Ireland has been a clear leader for some time at EU level in calling for recognition of the specific issues that arise in the agriculture and forestry sector in relation to policy on climate change mitigation and adaptation.  It is therefore a very positive result for the Taoiseach to have persuaded his colleagues to agree a statement on agriculture and forestry, which Ireland largely drafted, in their Conclusions on the EU’s Climate and Energy Framework to 2030.”

Noting that Ireland has been working hard on this issue for several years, the Minister said “when we started raising this issue with the Commission and other Member States we were alone in doing so.  We have succeeded in persuading others through the force of our arguments, based on sound science and the proven record of Irish agriculture in producing meat, dairy and other products with a low and improving carbon footprint”.

The conclusions commit the European Commission to examining how to encourage the sustainable intensification of food production, an issue consistently championed by Minister Coveney.  “I regard this as a vital recognition that we must not seek to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing sustainable food production.  Rather we should encourage increased food production, to meet rising global demand, but we must do so in a way that is genuinely sustainable”.  The Minister said this was very consistent with Irish policy in the food harvest 2020 strategy with its strong focus on both sustainability and growth.  “We are leading the world in some of our climate change actions, including carbon foot printing our farmers, and we are building further on this in the measures in our new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.”

In relation to forestry, the Minister said that the Conclusions agreed by EU leaders also specifically noted the role afforestation can play in carbon sequestration. This is very important for Ireland as afforestation is a major GHG mitigation measure that we are taking on agricultural land.  “It is essential that the EU’s GHG accounting system should take the value of afforestation fully into account in the future in order to encourage this real and additional mitigation” the Minister said.  

The Minister noted that following this decision by EU leaders, the Union was in a position to go into global negotiations on climate change with a clear mandate.  Following that, the EU conclusions will have to be given expression in detailed legislation.  This will require a lot of detailed work and negotiation in which the EU leaders themselves will continue to play a key role.  “We will continue to work hard on the agriculture and forestry aspects of the EU’s climate policy when we enter the detailed legislative phase of the negotiations. We will be significantly assisted in this by the text we have now succeeded in having adopted by the European Council and by the fact that the Taoiseach made it clear that our national target, when it is agreed, will have to take account of our national circumstances, which of course includes the fact that we have an exceptionally large agri-food sector.” 

 

View Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 158/2014 (pdf 641Kb) 

 

 

Date Released: 24 October 2014