Emissions reductions deal a dreadful failure of leadership
The deal reached by the government, which fails to meet even the minimum legal requirement of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030, has demonstrated a dreadful lack of leadership.
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is particularly disappointed that more was not done to reach the higher level of ambition for reducing the impact of agriculture on our environment. While agriculture had already been given special status, and a lower ambition level, to see this reduced even further is disappointing.
Achieving higher levels of emissions reductions in agriculture would not only have helped to reach climate targets but would have contributed to the easing of our biodiversity and water crises. Agriculture is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases but the greatest pressure on water quality and the greatest driver of species extinction. Only transformational change in our food system will be sufficient to drive change in these areas.
As pointed out by the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), yesterday’s deal did not include emissions from land use despite our land being a net emitter of carbon. We agree with the CCAC that this “needs to be addressed urgently”. This principally arises from drained peatlands and emissions are projected to increase due to a failed forestry strategy that will see a reduction in tree cover in the coming years. This points to the urgent need for a rewilding strategy that can simultaneously reduce emissions, protect and restore waters and provide essential habitat for biodiversity. Specifically, we suggest:
The IWT believes that redirecting farming subsidies towards rewilding could be the single most effective means of storing carbon, mitigating droughts, floods and fires, cleaning water and bringing back wildlife populations.
Ultimately, people need to demand more of our politicians, particularly of the three big parties, to stand up against narrow sectoral interests and prioritise a safe future for all.