European Development Days 2021: driving the global debate on green action ahead of Kunming and Glasgow Summits

 

IFA President Tim Cullinan has strongly criticised the lack of scrutiny of the Climate Action Bill and has accused Minister Eamon Ryan of attempting to ram through the legislation without due process.

“The plan to ram this legislation through the Dáil on Wednesday is a cynical attempt to avoid further scrutiny of the Bill, which contains fundamental flaws,” he said. “There are over 290 amendments put down on the Bill. These have been ignored by the Minister.

“This is a very significant piece of legislation that deserves serious debate. It will have ramifications for the future of our sector and the entire economy. There has to be proper parliamentary oversight and debate where the detail of the Bill is properly scrutinised. The three Government parties cannot vote this through as it stands.

“The failure to properly discuss the issues debases democracy. We want Govt TDs to make their voice heard before it’s too late."

Mr Cullinan said farmers have three main difficulties with the proposed legislation.

  • Farms remove carbon from the atmosphere, but this is not recognised in the definition of carbon budgets in the Climate Bill.
  • The Bill’s overall goal is to be climate-neutral by 2050 on a ‘net carbon’ basis. However, the proposed definition of carbon budgets in the Bill only refers to emissions and not removals. As it is currently drafted, it will also result in ‘carbon leakage’. Less food will be produced in Ireland, with more produced in countries with a higher carbon footprint, which will increase global warming. It’s environmental showmanship with no regard for the real impact of the measures on actual global warming.
  • The Programme for Government and the Climate Bill refers to taking account of ‘the distinct characteristics’ of biogenic methane in setting climate budgets. Yet it appears that the Government now want to walk away from this commitment.

“We have tried to engage constructively with the Government and Minister Ryan, but he says the Government won’t take amendments. It’s complete nonsense, and it’s time that rural TDs from Government parties stood up for Ireland’s largest indigenous sector.

“Farmers want to do more on climate action, but current farming environmental schemes are completely over-subscribed. Furthermore, a comprehensive renewables strategy, which incorporates the agricultural sector, is non-existent. Currently, there is no option for farmers interested in micro-generation to feed into the national grid. The forestry licensing system is in complete disarray. Supports for those considering a switch to organic production is inadequate, to say the least.

“We want to work with Government on climate action, but there has to be real engagement. Setting targets without any regard for the consequences and any supports won’t work."