Climate change top of the agenda at DOE conference
UFU representatives have recently attended a DOE conference on the possible introduction of a Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland.
The UFU are opposed to the introduction of new climate change legislation in Northern Ireland. However, the Environment Minister seems determined to drive this agenda forward, introducing statutory greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, which may be impossible to achieve, and potentially resulting in more red tape and controls on the agri-food industry.
The agricultural sector is a source of three major Greenhouse Gases (GHG); carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Agriculture can also play an important role as a carbon sink, storing carbon in the soil and plant matter. The nature of agriculture GHG emissions is very different from other sectors of the economy. In Northern Ireland, agriculture accounts for 27% of GHG emissions and is the largest source of GHG emissions in the Province. GHG in agriculture are mainly produced through the production and application of nitrogen fertilisers, and from livestock through enteric fermentation and manure.
The UFU is working with other stakeholders on the Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Implementation Partnership to deliver the ‘Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy and Action Plan – Efficient Farming cuts Greenhouse Gas Emissions’. This voluntary Strategy and Action Plan has the full support of the UFU.
The Union recognises that climate change and greenhouse gas emissions need to be tackled to meet pressures from Government and customers, and the key message is that the Northern Ireland agri-food sector needs to act on this Strategy to prevent increasing controls on the sector in the future. The Union believes that the agreed Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy and Action Plan would be more effective in delivering outcomes rather than introducing more legislation.
The Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy and Action Plan was developed by stakeholders to provide a voluntary framework which will enable the sector to meet market needs for food whilst minimising the environmental impacts.
The strategy focuses on measures that have the potential to reduce costs on farms but can also lower greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions can occur without loss of production or productivity. The measures often make good business sense and the document includes farmer based case studies in different farming systems where mitigation measures have been introduced that are already saving the farmer money and also reducing emissions.
The UFU encourages members to view the Strategy and Action Plan which can be found in the ‘Publications and Downloads’ section of the UFU website www.ufuni.org.
The UFU will continue to work with other industry partners to lobby politicians and raise concerns regarding the possible introduction of local climate change legislation.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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