Climate targets should be seen as an opportunity and not a threat says EU Policy Lead

Former Green Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin who is now the policy lead on a number of EU Climate projects is highly critical of the narrow focus of Irish Government negotiations in relation to Agricultural Emissions reduction targets.

According to Ó Brolcháin, “there are many ways we could reduce agricultural emissions without any focus on livestock. In fact, Ireland’s farming methods with grass fed cows is much more environmentally sound than many other systems internationally”.

”Farmers are absolutely not the problem, policies and subsidies simply need to be more imaginative in order to reduce emissions and give farmers a better income. Carbon farming, allowing farmers to sell carbon credits, paludiculture (wetland agriculture), eco-system services, forestry and production of green fertilizers using renewable energy are among the carbon friendly measures that could allow farmers to earn better incomes than they currently do”.

“Research by the Greifswald Mire Centre in Germany has identified that Ireland could reduce Agricultural emissions by nearly one third simply by restoring peatlands. This only affects 7% of Agricultural land” 

Niall Ó Brolcháin

“Winner of the prestigious Environment Prize in Germany, Professor Hans Joosten has identified that it is possible to significantly reduce GHG emissions by simply raising water tables on some agricultural land without affecting current farming practices in any way. In fact, an exchange by Richard Bruton of FG and Chair Brian Leddin of the Greens recognized this at the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action as recently as June 2022. They highlighted the fact that the Arterial Drainage Act of 1945 needs to be reviewed. This could pave the way for significant reductions in GHG emissions. Richard Bruton also highlighted the need for a proper Carbon Credit system to be put in place to provide much stronger incomes for farmers and rural communities”.

Ó Brolcháin went on to say, “the EC has recently released the Nature Restoration Law as part of its €1trillion Green Deal project. The Irish Department of Agriculture was one of the few to object to the proposed law. However, this law and the targets it sets go a long way towards meeting the proposed target of 30% reduction in Agricultural emissions by 2030 and this presents many opportunities for Ireland if we embrace them rather than opposing them. Personally, I am very disappointed that the Greens are seeking such a modest target as 30%, this is not nearly ambitious enough”.

Further Information

Niall Ó Brolcháin:


Mobile: (087) 9524776

Niall is policy lead with the EU Interreg NWE Care Peat Project, the EU Life Multi-Peat project, the STEPS Energy storage project and the EU Horizon Green Deal WaterLANDS project. Niall is also a project manager, researcher and lecturer based at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action: (Arterial Drainage Debate)

EU Horizon Green Deal Waterlands Project

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