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The Climate Action Plan 2021 – Securing Our Future

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D., together with Ministers of State, Senator Pippa Hackett and Martin Heydon, T.D., today welcomed the launch of the Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021.  The Plan outlines a pathway to reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 51% in 2030.

Referring to the Plan, Minister McConalogue said:“This is the most ambitious Climate Action Plan ever produced and it places farmers at the very centre.

The targets for agriculture will help make Irish farms more carbon efficient and build a more resilient agri-food sector. Farmers know the land better than anyone and are best placed to meet our climate ambitions. This plan sets ambitious climate mitigation targets for farming, but also recognises the special position of the sector in producing high quality food, and supporting a balanced regional economy.

Central to all of this is ensuring we have a strong and vibrant sector and that farm incomes are protected. That is why I have provided almost €10 billion in support for the new CAP Strategic Plan in the period from 2023 - 2027. We are facing into a period of transformation in our great sector and with the right support our farmers can lead this change.”

This Plan also sets a separate target for the land-use sector, acknowledging the role that our forests and land can play in carbon removals but also recognising that land can be a source of emissions.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett said:“Carbon sequestration is one of a range of important services being provided by sustainably managed forests. This Climate Action Plan recognises the importance of forests and timber, and the positive impact they make in sequestering and storing carbon.  Through Project Woodland we are engaging with citizens to build a new vision for the forestry sector that will help to shape a National Forestry Strategy. This will be finalised in the first quarter of 2022. We are also reviewing the regulatory framework with a view to streamlining our licencing system and making it more efficient. We are bringing forward legislation to make it easier  for farmers to undertake small scale planting of native trees without the need for a licence. That will bring huge biodiversity benefits and we will, also of course, continue to provide strong financial support for the sector. I would encourage all farmers to seriously consider forestry as part of their plans on their farms in the years ahead.

In addition, our soils are a potentially important carbon pool in the Irish landscape. Reducing emissions through reduced management intensity of our peat soils has the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions from these soils and is a means to positively contributing to our climate change ambition

The Programme for Government also commits to ambitious targets for increasing the area farmed organically, and we are backing that up with €256 million in financial support in the new CAP Strategic Plan to help make that happen.”

Research, technological innovation and adoption are crucial in achieving the emissions reductions in both the agriculture and land-use sectors. Minister of State, Martin Heydon, T.D., added: “Data monitoring, reporting and verification for baseline emissions data will be crucially important for targeted impactful action at local, regional and national levels and to increase certainty levels in the national inventory. Through the use of digital technology, knowledge transfer and environmental training we have an opportunity to drive a real change on farms. 

Through Teagasc, we are also funding fast tracked research into methane abatement, and some of these solutions are close to commercialisation. We will also ensure that the learnings from the innovative research we carry out in this country is passed back to farmers, improving their bottom line.

We will also continue to provide generous support to Bord Bia, so that positive action on climate can be harnessed to position Irish food as a premium product, built on sustainable food systems producing food of the highest quality.”

Concluding, Minister McConalogue said: “These commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are challenging but I know our great sector is committed to the challenge. Delivering real results will require collaboration, co-operation and sense of shared responsibility between citizens, industry and the State. We have a clear pathway to bring us part of the journey we are on.

We also know that we are close to commercialising technological solutions that will take us further, and that there is real potential for the development of new streams of income to reward actions that reduce carbon emissions on farms. We will continue to work with all stakeholders, engaging our farmers, industry, researchers, advisers, civil society and government to identify technological solutions and new business models to drive innovation to meet this challenge.”

Note for editors:

The Climate Action Plan 2021 document is available to view and/or download here: