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The European Commission, Council and Parliament reached a provisional deal on both the “Effort Sharing” and LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) regulations shortly before the Christmas break.

These regulations commit Member States to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in non-ETS sectors, which include the farming, waste and transport sectors, from 2021-2030, by 30% compared to 2005 levels.

Under the agreement Ireland has been set the target of reducing its emissions by 30%. However, flexibilities within the system to account for the low mitigation potential of agricultural and its significant weight within the Irish economy, allows us to off-set 5.6% of this by increasing greenhouse gas removals, through better land management, such as improved grassland practices and afforestation. A further 4% of emissions can also be covered under credits transferred from the ETS sector.

The starting point for national yearly emission reduction targets in 2021 will be calculated based on the average emissions between 2016 and 2018, and continue in a decreasing linear trajectory. This is a very welcome outcome for Ireland, and necessary to establish achievable goals from the off-set, considering that we will fall sort of reaching our 2020 emission reduction target.

However even with this flexibility, achieving this goal will be a steep climb for the Irish economy.

By Alison Graham                                                                                                                                                      

European Affairs Executive