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Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht Outline Heads of the Climate Action and Low

Carbon Development Bill Opening Statement by Paul Mc Kiernan, Principal Officer, Climate Change & Bioenergy Policy Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 20th June 2013 Heads of the Bill The Heads of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill provide for sectoral roadmaps to be developed that will in turn inform the development of a national low carbon roadmap. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been requested to prepare such a sectoral roadmap for agriculture, and in this regard the Department has commenced its work. The Minister welcomes the inclusion of the Director of Teagasc as an ex officio member of the proposed Expert Advisory Body to be established under the heads of bill. While we understand that the principal focus of the first sectoral and national roadmaps will be on the challenge facing Ireland in meeting the 2020 targets, we are also conscious of the need to take a long term view of how the agriculture sector will develop right out to 2050. In 2012, Teagasc prepared a detailed Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) study which outlines its analysis for cost effectively mitigating agriculture emissions to 2020. In response to the recent NESC final report on the climate challenge, Teagasc is currently conducting a qualitative assessment of pathways towards a carbon-neutral agriculture sector by 2050. Teagasc expect to have this work completed during the summer months, and this will be valuable in informing the Department’s preparation of the first sectoral roadmap. The Heads of Bill list a number of important factors to be considered in developing the sectoral and national roadmaps, and these include: • • • the need to promote sustainable development; the need to secure and safeguard the economic development and competitiveness of the State the need to take advantage of economic opportunities both within and outside the State

Sustainability of Irish Agriculture As regards sustainability the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has found that Irish dairy production has the joint lowest carbon footprint in the EU along with Austria. The footprint of Irish beef is also below the EU average. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation has also found that the temperate grassland production system, which is the predominant system of production in Ireland, is the most efficient in the world A joined up approach which features sustainable growth, allied to smarter greener agricultural systems, is key to the continued expansion of the sector. Benefits include, achieving economies of scale, lower carbon footprints on a “per unit of production” basis; and progressive protection of the environment when the system is well managed and monitored. The current Common Agricultural Policy negotiations are at a very sensitive stage. The Department will utilise the new CAP, particularly through the next national Rural Development Programme, in order to help Irish farmers to achieve the widest possible level of implementation and adoption of effective mitigation measures, and so improve efficiency even further. Importance of Agriculture to the National Economy The agriculture sector is very important to the Irish economy as can be seen from the 2012 statistics. These include: o o o 8% of total employment 7.7% of GVA 10.8% of exports or €9BN in monetary terms

Significant economic, employment and rural development benefits continue to accrue to Ireland from the sector. These are set to expand further with the rollout of Food Harvest 2020; reform of the Common Agricultural Policy post 2013; the lifting of milk quota restrictions in 2015; and the opening of new markets. However, we need to be resourceful both to retain existing, and to open new markets, and anything that can provide a competitive edge is to be grasped with both hands. The Sustainability and Carbon agendas are areas where Ireland can do well by building on natural advantages and agri-food strengths. Bord Bia – Quality Assurance Scheme and Origin Green

In June 2012 Bord Bia launched Origin Green, a national sustainability development programme that is designed to help Ireland become a world leader in sustainably produced food and drink. It is intended that 75% of Irish food and drink exports will be sourced from companies participating in Origin Green before the end of 2014. Some 254 Irish food and drink companies are already registered to participate in the programme and this represents more than 70% of Ireland’s food and drink exporters.

At farm level since May 2011, over 43,000 members of Bord Bia’s Beef Quality Assurance Scheme members have participated in a sustainability survey, as part of their regular farm audit. Ireland is the first country in the world to assess the footprint performance of farms on a national scale. Similar programmes are planned across for the dairy industry; for poultry production at both farm and processing level; for pigmeat and lamb production with a view to completing this work by the end of 2013; and projects are also being planned for grain and horticulture. Future Ambition for Climate Action at EU and International Levels The 2009 Effort Sharing Decision included agriculture in the non-ETS category, and tasked Ireland with a huge 20% reduction target for the combined sectors of Transport, Energy, the Built Environment, Waste and Agriculture. We must face up to the reality of this historic decision and try to reach the targets that were set. However, it is vital that we continue to make the strong case at EU and UNFCCC levels that there is an inconsistency in this rather blunt approach to target setting as far as agriculture is concerned, when placed in the context of the worldwide demand for increased production of food. We have been working closely with the Department of the Environment to explain the particular nature of the Irish greenhouse gases profile to the Commission. As a result of this work, the Commission understands and acknowledges both the the nature and carbon efficiency of the agriculture sector in Ireland, as well as its importance on both economic and social grounds. The Department is finalising material for the Irish agriculture response to the two recent European Commission documents: • European Commission Green Paper - A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies; and

The 2015 International Climate Change Agreement: Shaping international climate policy beyond 2020

This material will feed into the national response to both papers which will be provided by our colleagues in the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government as the lead Department. It makes no sense to set future targets that could lead to a reduction in production in an agriculture system that is recognised as one of the most efficient in the world. Such an approach carries the very real risk of carbon leakage, as production is taken up by less sustainable systems in other parts of the world with the consequence of overall increases in emissions in global terms.

Food Security – the growing worldwide demand A fundamental objective of the UNFCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Article 2 also states that “Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change , to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”. Food security is clearly at the heart of the founding principles of the UNFCCC. The human population is set to rise by an additional 2 billion people (to 9 billion) by 2050. Indeed the European Commission’s 2015 discussion papers note that “By 2030, the global population is set to increase by another billion to 8 billion. As an increasing share of this population joins the middle income classes, it is expected that by 2030 there will be a 50% increase in demand for food……….agricultural productivity and production will need to continue to increase to feed the world's growing population.” Forestry All land use activities should be considered in the context of moving to a competitive low-carbon economy. In an Irish context, forestry is essentially an agricultural land use activity and it is therefore appropriate that the positive outputs arising from forestry sector activities should be available to net off against overall agriculture emissions. It is inconsistent that forestry sequestration doesn’t count towards the ESD targets but does for international KP accounting.

Bioenergy The Department is contributing as part of a working group chaired by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in developing a National Bioenergy Strategy. This work is expected to be completed during this summer. In framing the strategy, consideration will be given to maximising the opportunities from within the Agriculture and Forestry sectors to contribute to Renewable Energy targets for 2020 and beyond. This includes the use of agricultural wastes, energy crops, forest residues etc. Research and Knowledge Transfer Ireland is to the forefront in research aimed at reducing GHG emissions from agriculture. Internationally, • DAFM represents Ireland on the Governing Board of the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE) and The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. Ireland is a founder member of the Global Research Alliance whose objective is to pool the resources of likeminded countries to enable the agriculture sector to continue to reduce emissions. In 2012, Ireland became a founding partner of the new United Nations FAO Partnership on Benchmarking and Monitoring the Environmental Performance of Livestock Supply Chains.

Nationally • Since 2005, this Department has made awards totalling more than €20m on climate change related projects. Last November, some €2.7M was allocated to projects that are looking at aspects of sustainability/climate change including sustainable nitrogen use and sustainable ruminant production and life cycle analysis.

It is vital that the results of this research are put into practice at farm level so that we can guarantee the supply of sustainable food into the future. The Department has developed and funded schemes to incentivise farmers to learn about the best practices in farming. These include the Dairy Efficiency Programme and the Beef and Sheep Technology Action Programmes. Teagasc and other private advisors provide the advisory service on the ground to farmers. Conclusion

Ireland currently produces enough food to feed a human population of well over 30 million people. We export up to 85% of our agricultural output. Irish farmers know very well that they are custodians of the Irish countryside for future generations. Food production is at the heart of the global climate effort under UNFCCC and Irish agriculture is above all about sustainable production of food. In national policy formulation, decisions should therefore be informed by our well-earned world reputation and our proven past performance as one of the most efficient food production countries. The Irish agri-food sector must continue to produce more food, more efficiently in carbon terms, and national climate policy should support and enhance that effort. Climate Change Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine