Eamon Ryan Photo: Kayle Crosson

Eamon Ryan: Irish agriculture will “change for the better”

19 May 2021 

Irish agriculture will be “changed for the better” as the country transitions to a net-zero emissions economy, The Minister for Climate Action has said. 

Minister Eamon Ryan made the remark at the Dublin Climate Dialogues today, an international event preceding the highly-anticipated COP26 climate conference set to take place in Glasgow later this year.  

As Irish farmers switch to a mixed grasslands system, it will ultimately lower the cost for the farmer and reduce the amount of fertiliser needed, according to Minister Ryan. 

The move will ultimately be a “better and healthier solution for animals, and for all natural systems in Ireland,” he said.  

Rewetting bogs will also be a key component of nature-based solutions according to Minister Ryan, as their carbon sink capacity will assist in the economy-wide transition.

The Minister also mentioned the importance of facilitating a “Just Transition” for Irish agriculture so that the younger generation of farmers can be financially supported into the future.

Such measures he proposed included farmers receiving payments to adapt to economically viable and sustainable production methods.

The day’s line-up however notably did not include a representative from youth climate organisations or environmental non-governmental organisations. 

Vice President for Equality and Citizenship of the Union of Students in Ireland Marie Lyons was critical of the move, and said that “hearing [from these] groups leading climate action is vital.” 

Climate finance failures 

Former Irish President Mary Robinson also spoke at the event and stressed that industrialised countries must double their current contributions to climate finance as developing countries struggle to adapt to the climate crisis.

Developed countries have pledged to direct $100 billion per year to developing countries in climate finance. 

However, earlier this year a coalition of European organisations said the bloc’s contribution was insufficient and echoed Ms. Robinson’s call for the figure to be doubled. 

Given that wealthier countries have disproportionately contributed to the climate crisis, they need to adhere to the principles of climate justice and allocate a significantly larger amount of funding to poorer countries who are bearing the biggest brunt of the crisis and have done the least to cause it, according to Ms. Robinson.

“There was a long promise for $100 billion each year [in climate finance] by 2020, and we still haven’t reached that. That is the minimum because it’s an old promise now, and it needs to trigger a lot of private sector money,” she said. 

Developing economies also need the financing for a green transition, and the lack of technology, investment, and training facilitated by industrialised countries fails to show international solidarity, Ms. Robinson added. 

She also pointed to the immense investments countries made in response to the Covid-19 crisis, and concluded that states must do the same in the face of climate change and the injustice it creates. 

Story by Shauna Burdis & Thomas Hamilton