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Sunday 1 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C File image of Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue.
# Climate
Agriculture Minister hopes sectoral emissions targets will be agreed by Wednesday
A pinch point in ongoing discussions to finalise the limits for individual sectors is how far agriculture – the largest emitter – must cut its emissions.

THE AGRICULTURE MINISTER said he hopes the detailed greenhouse gas emissions limits for specific sectors still being worked out by government will be finalised by next week. 

Charlie McConalogue repeated previous expectations from himself and the Environment Minister Eamon Ryan that the terms can be agreed ahead of the final Cabinet meeting before the summer this Wednesday.

The sectoral ceilings come as part of Ireland’s first-ever carbon budgets which chart a path to reducing total emissions. 

A pinch point in ongoing discussions to finalise the limits for individual sectors is how far agriculture – the largest emitter – must cut its emissions and whether it may be required to reduce herd numbers.

Speaking to Newstalk’s On The Record programme, the Agriculture Minister said he “would hope” the exact limits will be agreed by Wednesday and that there is a “lot of work ongoing”. 

The Sunday newspapers today reported a variety of different figures for the expected emissions reduction target still to be agreed for agriculture. 

The Sunday Independent said McConalogue signalled accepting a reduction of above 22%, the lowest figure the sector can have for reductions by 2030. 

The Business Post said agriculture would receive a lower short-term emissions target but that it could be raised higher in the next few years if methane-reducing technologies prove viable.  

According to the Sunday Times, the sector faces a 28% reduction target for 2030. 

The sector will have to face a reduction target of between 22% and 30%. 

It’s understood there has been some pushback from several members of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s parliamentary parties, particularly against a 30% reduction target.

McConalogue said there has been “very productive and constructive engagement” in government over the last few weeks to get the targets over the line. 

He repeated that the government is committed to achieving the legally binding target to reduce overall emissions by 51% by 2030.  

“We know the challenges that are there,” the minister said, mentioning an EPA report this week that showed agriculture emissions rose by 3% in 2021. 

McConalogue said he wants to ensure the agri reduction target will minimise emissions but still “backs family farms”. 

The Journal reported ealier this week that McConalogue told Eamon Ryan that “impossible” targets for reducing emissions would undermine the sector’s “well-established green image”.

The records released by the Department of Agriculture to Noteworthy, Journal Media’s investigative platform, detailed minutes of a meeting between the two ministers on 21 June about the emissions limits due for specific sectors. 

It was previously expected that the legally-binding limits would be agreed before the Dáil commenced its summer recess but this did not happen. 

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