THE ability of agriculture to remove carbon from the environment looks set to be recognised in the Climate Action Bill.
Close to 250 amendments were tabled as the Bill passed through the Houses of the Oireachtas last week, but just two were accepted in the end by the Minister.
One was brought forward by FG Senator Tim Lombard and it means carbon sequestered on farms will be recognised as part of the carbon budgets and sectoral targets.
‘We can now account for the removal of carbon into our soils, bogs, and hedgerows which is a game changer for the farming community, who are always told they must reduce their emissions. But they will now also be acknowledged for the carbon that they remove from the environment,’ said Sen Lombard, a dairy farmer.
‘Other industries are able to reduce their emissions but agriculture is the only industry capable of removing (as well as reducing) carbon from the environment, and that was not previously acknowledged within the proposed legislation. This will ensure a more equitable and viable balance between climate budgets and agriculture activity.’
He said the amendment gives recognition to farmers which what they need ‘because, unfortunately, during the climate action debate, they feel they have been victimised.’
‘If anything, they have followed Government policy and engaged with it. They should not be victimised because of what they do.
‘As a dairy farmer who produces milk and milks cows, I believe, as an industry, we need to have that voice here. It is important we have the ability to play a vital role. This amendment gives us that opportunity. It is one of the most important amendments to make sure we bring the agricultural community along this journey.’
Senator Lombard pointed to Carbery’s Farm Zero C, project which is working to prove how much carbon is absorbed by soil and hedgerows.
‘The amendment gives the recognition needed for the farming community to drive forward and to do more. Farmers have the ability and knowledge to do more. We have the best trained farmers in the world. There are no other farmers in the globe that have gone through the training that our farmers have.’
Speaking in the Seanad Minister Eamon Ryan said he intends to accept the amendment but said it ‘doesn’t remove the need to reduce emissions.’
IFA President Tim Cullinan welcomed the decision but said there are still ‘serious issues with the Bill.’
These are particularly around the ‘distinct characteristics’ of biogenic methane, along with the need to avoid any international carbon leakage arising from the implementation of the Bill.