Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 06 February, 2007
Written Answers. - National Climate Change Strategy.
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps she is taking to ensure that agriculture here can thrive in a climate changed world. [3761/07]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: Climate change has serious implications not just for agriculture but for all sectors of the economy. The Government is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol and the National Climate Change Strategy published in 2000 sets the framework for Ireland to achieve its targets under the Protocol, i.e. to limit greenhouse gas  emissions to 13% above 1990 levels over the commitment period of 2008–2012. The target set for agriculture to reduce emissions is 10% below the projected “business as usual” levels for 2010. In fact, the agriculture and forestry sectors look likely to exceed this target and to achieve a reduction of 12%.
Furthermore it is these sectors that are making the largest contribution to meeting Ireland’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. An independent assessment in March 2006 found that the total projected annual reduction in emissions would come to 7.95 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Over 56% of this would come as a direct result of policies, measures and actions in the agriculture and forestry sectors — 2.4 million tonnes from agriculture and 2.1 million tonnes from changes in land use from agriculture to forestry.
The decoupling of direct payments from production plays a very significant part in the reduction of methane emissions from agriculture, because of the projected fall in livestock numbers. The results of the latest Teagasc National Farm Survey indicate that these numbers will remain at their reduced levels in the medium term.
As regards the likely impact of changes to climate on Irish agriculture, my Department closely monitors ongoing research programmes both on climate change in Ireland and on its likely impact. I am aware that increased precipitation and water shortages are major issues for agriculture worldwide and it has been suggested that such changes in our own climate may have both positive and negative long-term effects on Irish agriculture.
My Department is funding various research projects to assist in identifying sustainable greenhouse gas emission reduction measures. Amongst these are studies focused on reducing methane emissions in ruminants and an examination of nitrous oxide emissions from grasslands. Under the Stimulus Research Programme, my Department has set aside funding for research designed to improve the understanding of the impacts of climate change on agricultural production at the farm level. The outputs from this modelling will be used by the Teagasc Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC) to further investigate impacts of climate change and identify sustainable alternatives at farm scale. These programmes are in addition to agricultural-related research undertaken by the EPA under the ERTDI programme which we continue to monitor closely so as to identify what areas of agriculture are vulnerable to climate change and how farming systems are likely to be adapted in response.
A review of the National Climate Change Strategy is currently under way. My Department along with the other Departments on the interdepartmental climate change team, is considering the stakeholder submissions received as part of the public consultation process on the review of  Ireland’s National Climate Change Strategy, which was first published in 2000.
Dáil Éireann 630 Written Answers. National Climate Change Strategy.