Department Committed To Reducing Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Junior Agriculture Minister Tony Killeen T.D. has reaffirmed the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food’s long-term commitment to reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

[ClickPress, Thu Jun 25 2009] The Clare Deputy was speaking following a seminar held in County Kildare focusing on agri-centered climate change research funded by the Department’s Research Stimulus Fund (RSF).

According to Minister Killeen: “This week’s seminar was designed to address numerous objectives including the important role research can play in reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and to inform the research community about the challenges facing policymakers in relation to climate change and greenhouse gas reduction targets. The seminar also provided an opportunity for the research communities in Northern Ireland and the Republic to explore areas of mutual interest. Indeed, it should be noted that Institutes in both areas are collaborating on a number of projects funded by the Department.”

“Having initially set the global and national policy context the event went on to look at ongoing research on methane and nitrous oxide mitigation, the role of forestry, and the economic impact of various emissions reduction strategies, and opportunities to become involved in trans-national research under the EU Framework Programme. The seminar served as a reminder of the Department’s commitment to reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by highlighting the fact that approximately €7m has been committed to funding research projects directly related to this area through RSF calls in the 2005 – 2007 period”, explained Minister Killeen.

He continued: “This investment is virtually doubled when account is taken of other RSF-funded research projects on agri-energy, animal manure utilisation, and animal production that indirectly contribute to tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. The Department is hopeful that the eventual findings from all these RSF-funded projects will help enable Irish Agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the sector.”

“The Department believes that this event will make a valuable contribution in its on-going efforts to find practical, cost effective solutions that will enable the sector to play its part in meeting Ireland’s overall climate change commitments”, he added.

There is growing scientific consensus that the main cause of climate change is the emission of greenhouse gases from human activity. There are ongoing international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. There is a political consensus that global average temperatures should not exceed 2°C above pre-industrial level. The EU has taken a unilateral decision to reduce emissions by 20%, relative to 2005, by 2020. It is hoped to achieve a global agreement at the UNFCCC climate change talks in Copenhagen in December that will reduce emissions globally by 30%.

Emissions from agriculture account for about 27% of total emissions in Ireland. This has fallen in recent years - from about 35% in 1990. The greenhouse gases emitted from the agriculture sector in association with food production are methane and nitrous oxide. These are emitted due to naturally occurring processes in crop and animal production systems. Because they are naturally occurring these emissions are very difficult to reduce - there are very few mitigation strategies available. Emissions per kilogramme of meat and milk produced in Ireland are low relative to other countries, due to efficiencies in farming systems brought about by research.

“It is recognised that we should aim, through research, to identify mitigation strategies that will reduce emissions further here. Given the global importance of reducing emissions this research will enable Ireland to play a role in reducing emissions associated with food production worldwide. The Department has made significant funding available for this research through the RSF. It will also help Ireland to maintain production - and play a role in meeting the increasing demand for food worldwide, which is expected to double by 2050”, concluded Minister Killeen.


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