Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan has warned that the agriculture sector does not want “a Brexit scenario” when it comes to reducing emissions, they want action now.
“Kicking the can down the road isn’t going to help,” the West Cork TD told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
“Everybody wants certainty. They don’t want the Brexit scenario here, they don’t want something that is long and drawn out”.
Mr O’Sullivan said he personally thought it would be a disaster to push back a decision on emission targets to September.
“It would be a disaster for two reasons – one – we are running out of time when it comes to taking action on climate change, this isn’t just something that is going to impact our grandchildren and children as the narrative has been, this is affecting us, this is impacting our generation, and we’ve seen that with fires in London, right across continental Europe and indeed right here in Ireland with the flooding events – that’s one of the primary reasons, we need to take action now. Kicking the can down the road isn’t going to help.
“Secondly, and just as important to me. I’m here in West Cork – it’s a dairy heartland, when we talk about farming in West Cork, this isn’t the big expansive farm which some people refer to as big dairy. Family farms here are between 90 and 100 or maybe 150 cows and these farmers are concerned, they’re anxious, they’re worried about what limits may mean for them in the future and they want an answer now.
“Prolonging this isn’t going to help, it’s just going to increase things, it’s going to increase the finger pointing that is going on at the ag sector which I think is very unfair”.
Mr O’Sullivan was hopeful that a target could be agreed today.
At the same time we’re not signing up to the Rural Independents or Sinn Féin policy where they don’t have an opinion on it.
When asked what target level for agriculture Fianna Fáil would like to see, he said it would certainly not be the 30 being advocated by the Social Democrats. “We think that figure would have a huge detrimental impact on what is a really important industry for rural parts of Ireland. At the same time we’re not signing up to the rural Independents or Sinn Féin policy where they don’t have an opinion on it.”
It remained to be seen what would be acceptable, he added. “Whatever happens is going to be a huge challenge. In other sectors such as transport there are alternatives, in energy there is a real drive towards renewable energy and this will potentially create jobs and will potentially lead to a situation in Ireland where we are a net producer of energy to the rest of Europe.
“It’s the same in transport where we have an increase in the amount of EVs on the roads, unfortunately in agriculture because the technology isn’t there at the moment, anything up around the 30 percent mark is going to lead to job losses so we have to embrace technology.
“We have to get serious about climate action.”