18 November 2009
From: Offaly Express
ADDRESSING the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security last week, IFA President Padraig Walshe said any decisions on climate change must not restrict the opportunities for Irish agriculture to sustain farm families, create jobs, develop exports and expand our food production.
Mr Walshe said that Ireland’s climate change response must address the key issues of energy and food security adding that the policy must ensure that sustainable beef production is not replaced by imports into Europe from regions such as South America that are less environmentally sustainable.
“The rapid growth in beef exports from Brazil has resulted in thousands of acres of Amazonian rainforest destruction. The cattle sector is responsible for 80% of all deforestation in the Amazon region and, on average, one hectare of Amazon rainforest is lost to cattle ranchers every 18 seconds.
"Carbon sinks such as forestry and permanent pastures must be recognised as providing significant Greenhouse Gas reductions. In 2007, it was estimated that forest sinks alone accounted for a reduction of 1.36 Mt CO2e in Ireland," he commented.
The IFA President went on to say that permanent pasture is a feature of farming in this country, with over 90% of total agricultural area in grassland.
"This stores carbon and provides an environmental competitive advantage for beef and dairy herds, compared to the high concentrate diets and deforestation associated with other beef-producing countries.”
Concluding, Padraig Walshe said that job creation, economic recovery and environmental sustainability must be the cornerstone of Ireland’s response to climate change. “Europe must not accept lower environmental standards from other regions for the sake of an international compromise in Copenhagen.”