Irish farmers face calls to reduce cow numbers by 1 million to meet climate targets | Totally Vegan Buzz

Irish farmers face calls to reduce cow numbers by 1 million to meet climate targets

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The emission targets for agriculture sparked protests from the farming community, while conservationists stressed ‘for a relentless focus’ on action.

Farmers in Ireland are facing calls to reduce its number of cattle after the government laid down emission targets to tackle the climate crisis.

Ireland’s 135,000 farms produce 37.5% of national emissions, the highest proportion in the European Union, and the biggest contributor to that is methane production associated with cattle burps and farts.

In a bid to slash overall carbon emissions by 51% by 2030, the government imposed a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2030.

Community response

 Ireland has 7.3 million cattle and while agriculture cuts will be incentivised and voluntary, cattle farmers are facing pressure to cull cattle, which has sparked a bitter battle between farmers, business groups and environmentalists.

According to Pat McCormack, head of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, a 25% cut in agricultural emissions will drive many farms into bankruptcy. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of cows will be needlessly slaughtered.

 “The mood is hugely frustrated,” McCormack said.

Farm groups have blamed the coalition government for incriminating rural Ireland and leaving farmers no choice but to cull herds.

Tim Cullinan, the leader of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said: “This is a potentially devastating blow for Irish farming and the rural economy”.

It’s time for a relentless focus and action

According to The Guardian, farmers are banking on  proposed changes in calculating methane emissions, new technologies, and other measures to compensate for the need to reduce cow numbers.

However, John Sweeney, a climate expert at Maynooth University explained why the measures don’t go far enough.  “Various tried and untried methods have been advanced to suggest compliance with the 25% emissions ceiling,” all of which fell short, he said.  “Only a reduction in numbers can achieve the targets in the short term.”

He added that Ireland will need to reduce its herd of cows by at least 1 million by 2030.

While the loudest protests have come from farmers, other sectors face higher targets. Transport faces a 50% reduction target; commercial and public buildings face a  40% cut while the industry must reduce emissions by 35%.

“Agriculture has received a very generous emission ceiling, largely due to the powerful lobby groups it possesses,” Sweeney said.

In fact, the other sectors face a 60% reduction in emissions to absorb the slack from agriculture.

Oisín Coghlan is the director of Friends of the Earth Ireland. He told The Guardian that agriculture should have been given bigger cuts but that the priority now was transformative action. “The time for talking is finally over, it’s time for a relentless focus now on delivery, delivery, delivery.”

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