Agricultural emissions pose challenge for economic competitiveness

Agriculture is the greatest contributor to Ireland’s emissions, despite the industry reducing releases to below the peak levels seen in 1990, according to a report.

This in turn constrains the potential to meet climate change commitments, posing a direct challenge to the country’s economic competitiveness, according to ‘Ireland’s Competitiveness Scorecard 2017’ from the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

Between 1990 and 2015, total emissions increased by 6.7{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} to 59,878 kilotons (kt), with the agri-sector accounting for 33{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} of this, compared to the second-biggest contributors – transport and energy – which were both at 20{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1}.

While agricultural emissions have reduced, transport emissions have soared by 130{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} over the 25-year period.

Launched this week, the report identified climate change as a “very significant” challenge for Ireland – both in terms of mitigating emissions and achieving national and international binding targets, as well as in adapting to its effects.

The NCC raised concerns that the country’s recent, strong economic performance was overstating competitiveness and “masking” weaknesses in the underlying drivers of future competitiveness – particularly in terms of costs and productivity.

Highlighting the importance for Ireland to diversify its export opportunities, NCC Chairman, Prof. Peter Clinch, said: “The scale of the challenges which confront us have magnified over the past year since the Brexit referendum result.

“Only a renewed focus on competitiveness will enable us to achieve sustainable improvements in living standards that help us withstand external shocks and factors beyond our control”.

This follows figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showing Ireland’s growth in agri-food exports to the EU was 8.4{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} for the five-month period between January and May.

By contrast, growth in agri-related shipments to the UK was 2.2{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1}.

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