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National Climate Change Strategy

In 2007, the Government published the National Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012, which set out a range of measures, building on those already in place under the 2000 Strategy, to meet Ireland's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The Department contributed to the development of the Strategy, and conducted a research needs analysis in 2007 to identify and support the development of future measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Strategy projects a reduction in emissions from the agricultural sector through a number of measures including Common Agricultural Policy Reforms, participation in REPS, AEOS & Organic Schemes, supports for manure management in line with the EU Nitrates Directive, supports for afforestation and through development of renewable energy resources.

Ireland has also agreed to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 2005 emissions levels, by 2020, as part of a the EU Climate and Energy Package for the post-Kyoto period 2013-2020. When communicating their willingness to be associated with the Copenhagen Accord  the EU reiterated the conditional offer to increase the overall EU 2020 emission reduction target from 20% to 30% in the event of a comprehensive agreement on global emissions reductions. This will lead to the establishment of new targets for individual EU Member States, based on a number of set criteria and would lead to an increase in the Irish reduction target, potentially to up to a reduction level of 30%.

Achieving these targets presents a very considerable challenge to all sectors of the economy including the agriculture sector. Ongoing research will continue to develop further measures and technologies to reduce emissions from the agriculture sector. The Department has committed €15.5 million to climate change research projects since 2005 under the Research Stimulus Fund and continues to monitor ongoing research both nationally and internationally in an effort to find suitable mitigation technologies and approaches. As part of the Department's 2010 research call, €1.5m was committed to funding a Network that aims to bring together all principal investors working in the field of agricultural climate change research in a 4 year initiative. Ireland is engaged with the EU Joint Programming Initiative on agriculture, climate change and food security and is also a founder member of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which was established in December 2009.