Ireland's farmers' fears over climate plans

Ireland's farmers' fears over climate plans
By Meabh McMahon
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With Irish farming also under pressure to reduce carbon emissions, farmers are concerned for how they can cut back while still making a profit.


At Causey Farmin the East of Ireland, 300 cattle and 200 sheep graze on 300 hectares. With the help of some of his seven sisters, Matt Murtagh keeps the farm alive. But it is not enough to make ends meet.

"This year has been very hard. I mean, the beef price is down hugely, and it’s fallen on a very bad weather year the year before," admits Matt.

With Irish farming also under pressure to reduce carbon emissions, Matt is concerned.

"I think beef has become the whipping guy, and the government thinks ‘oh if we get rid of the cows, everyone can keep driving around in their big cars."

Earlier this year, the Irish government did not decide 'to get rid of cows', but they did declare a climate and biodiversity emergency.

A climate action plan followed, 150 pages of text on ways to reduce carbon emissions. Farmers were asked to switch fertilizers and re-wet bog-lands but not reduce herds.

In Ireland, a country obsessed with talking about the weather, emotions are high surrounding climate change. On her weekly radio show on this Irish radio station Newstalk, callers call her a scaremonger, but environmental scientist Cara Augustenborg says the reality is, as an island nation, Ireland is at risk of flooding and sea levels will rise.

"Our erosion rates particularly in coastlines like here in Bray are quite astonishing. We have a dart line and a train line that runs along this coast, which will disappear as a result of climate change within the century, so we have a lot to worry about when it comes to climate change," says Augustenborg.

Back in the countryside, people are concerned about the climate, but want the responsibility to save it to be shared among all sectors.

"We only have one planet, we have to get a little bit longer out of it," reflects Matt.

The COP25 climate summit is taking place in Madrid Dec 2-13.

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