Coming from a farming area, I understand the need to adopt new measures to tackle climate change. Farming contributes to more than a third of the country’s greenhouse gases. I think it is the responsibility of farmers to contribute to COP26 plans, which is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
Ireland has pledged to reduce their methane emission by 30% by 2030. Ireland has approximately 6.5 million cattle. According to the Central Statistics Office to reduce our emissions by 30%, we would need to reduce our herd by 1.3 million. How are we going to do this? I don’t think anyone fully knows, but we can all agree that it is essential. Several ways are being explored… for example the feeding of seaweed to cattle and sheep. This is being currently tested on a farm in Grange, County Meath. The overall health benefits seem to be having major impacts already. The nutrients in seaweed include a high-level protein, fit for human consumption also! This in turn leads to healthier animals and easier recovery.
COP26 was meant to be about UN countries pulling together to fight climate change, but right now I only see some countries contributing to this. There was a lack of help when developing countries mentioned funding for damage caused by the climate crisis e.g rising sea levels. This was one point which made me realise the lack of cooperation between countries.
China, India, and Russia all declined the methane pact. Even though, the meeting in Glasgow showed that these countries contribute to 35% of the overall methane emissions worldwide… Should we not all be carrying this responsibility? This is a worldwide problem, but not being treated like one. In July, the Farmers Journal commissioned KPMG to carry out an economic impact assessment on what achieving a 50% cut in Irish farming could mean for Irish farmers. The report showed Ireland facing a €4b hit to the economy, as well as over 56,000 jobs lost concerning farming. The cut that government members are looking for in farming is not that high, or at least for now it is not that high! The reduction in methane levels is only going to be continued as yearly meetings are held.
The Irish Farming Association and individual farmers have been working hard to come up with many methods to reduce our methane emissions, meanwhile other countries have not been bothering. It makes our efforts feel unworthy.
As I have said in previous articles, as the population increases, the food industry will need to increase production to meet demand. If we have reduced our number of cows, sheep, etc, then we will just start importing from these other countries where the carbon footprint is higher. I know I am repeating myself here, but the government does not seem to consider this issue. Not only will Ireland as a country lose money, but people’s livelihoods will be lost. It’s a worthy sacrifice to reduce your business income for the future of generations, but it is humiliating to reduce your business and not contribute to the future of these generations, due to imports.
Was COP26 a success? Not for Irish farmers anyway.