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Tackling climate change is one of the main challenges of the 21st century. Last November the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that we have just 12 years left for effective action to be taken against rising temperatures.

Over the past decade the European Union has led action for climate targets among Member States. In 2015, under the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, the EU committed to reducing emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

While some EU member states have made significant progress in meeting their targets, others including Ireland, are lagging behind in meeting these commitments. Meeting these targets will require ambitious action by Member States to reduce emissions in key economic sectors. The agricultural sector is one of Ireland’s most important industries, yet it accounts for over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, making it the single largest contributor to Ireland’s total emissions. There is an urgent need to reconcile the need for urgent climate action and the need to protect the agricultural sector’s competitiveness and the livelihoods that depend on it.

Political leaders and policymakers have to find solutions to this challenge now. This is not a challenge faced by Ireland alone. Across Europe, policymakers and politicians are looking for solutions. In France, the Yellow Vest protests were initially sparked by increased carbon taxes. Clearly, a considered but effective approach to climate action is required to ensure a just transition and minimal economic and social disruption.

This event was part of the IIEA’s Future of the EU27 Project, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


· Marian Harkin, outgoing MEP for the Midlands/North West Constituency;

· Martin Kenny TD, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food & the Marine;

· Thomas Cooney, Chairman of the IFA National Environment Committee, and;

· Dr Pippa Hackett, Green Party Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, Forestry, Heritage & Animal Welfare.