This week the European Parliament will vote on their proposed amendments to the Commission’s draft legislation on emission reduction targets for the period 2021-2030, known as the Effort Sharing Regulation.
Proposals from Environment MEPs have sought to impose stricter targets for the sectors involved, including agriculture.
Under the original Commission proposal, Ireland, which has been given the target of cutting emissions by 30% of 2005 levels by 2030, would have the ability to off-set up to 5.6% of this by increasing its greenhouse gas removals, through better land management, such as improved grassland practices and forest planting, called LULUCF flexibility. Environment MEPs sought to reduce this flexibility by one third, reducing Ireland’s limit to 3.8%. The proposal was met by opposition from Agriculture and Industry MEPs, as well as farm stakeholders, who called for greater recognition of need to balance food production with greenhouse gas reduction, and of the limited mitigation potential of agriculture, which necessitate this flexibility. As a result, in a decision greatly welcomed and support by ICOS, the Parliament political groups reversed this proposed amendment late last week, to restore the LULUCF credits to 280m tonnes from 190m.
However we remain concerned regarding a further proposal from Environment MEPs, requiring member states to reduce emissions each year in a liner trajectory beginning in 2018 (rather than 2020) and for the starting yearly emissions goal to be based on current 2020 targets, or lower if already achieved by member states. By 2020 it is predicted that Ireland will have only reduced its emissions by 4-6% on 2005 levels, well below our target of 20%. This proposal would consequently present an impossible task with serious implications for the economy and in particular the growing agri-food sector if we were to try to make such drastic emissions cuts in so short a time. ICOS therefore strongly supports maintaining the Commission proposal, which would see the 2020 emission goals based on an average 2016-2018 emissions.
By Alison Graham
European Affairs Executive
29 Jan 2021