Current CAP strategic plan would not deliver sufficient climate action

11 May 2021

Ireland’s current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans would fail to deliver sufficient climate action, a new report has detailed.  

The report, by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, which assessed the CAP Strategic plans of five EU member states, outlined how the plans require serious revisions if they are to deliver on the goals of the European Green Deal.

In their examination of Ireland’s draft CAP Strategic Plan, the authors noted an area of conflict in the current policies for continued dairy expansion, and the need for climate mitigation in future CAP plans.

This continued expansion of the Irish dairy industry can be seen in the 2020-2027 dairy roadmap where Teagasc anticipates a further 12 per cent increase in dairy cow numbers before 2027.

The newly published draft Agri-Food 2030 Strategy commits to a 10 per cent reduction in biogenic methane over the next 10 years, however critics have stressed that it does not set a target on reducing livestock numbers, which is the sector’s main source of emissions.

The country’s dairy expansion makes it an “EU outlier”, according to Ian Lumley from An Taisce.

“Having declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ in the Parliament and with a current coalition Programme for Government annual greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 7% until 2030, the National CAP Plan must ensure that agriculture plays its fair share in climate action. This requires significant herd reduction,” he said.

The report recommends that Ireland’s draft CAP Strategic Plan should be aligned with the Irish government’s commitment to 7 per cent annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as well as its’ obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Across the other four Member States examined in the report: Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain, a focus was put on reducing greenhouse emissions through a reduction in livestock numbers.

With the post-2022 CAP soon being finalised, a focus on fulfilling environmental, climate, and biodiversity commitments that were set in the European Green Deal should be the guiding principle of drafts going forward, according to CAN Europe

Once the terms of the post-2022 Common Agricultural Policy are agreed, these policies are implemented through “CAP Strategic Plans” which are designed by each individual member state and monitored by the European Commission.

By Thomas Hamilton