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The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney has warmly welcomed the historic Paris climate change agreement that has been reached by 195 countries from across the planet.

Speaking at a Farm Europe conference in Brussels on the 14th December Minister Coveney said: “ It is appropriate that we are having a discussion today on sustainability, two days after the historic agreement in Paris which seeks to limit global tempeature increases to less than 2 degrees, and to pursue efforts to achieve 1.5 degrees through binding commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions”.

“I welcome the fact that the Paris Agreement acknowledges the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger”

The Minister noted that the Paris Agreement included IMG_3187some particular points of importance to the agriculture, food and forest sectors. “It is also appropriate that world leaders continue to recognise, in Article 2 of the agreement, that, in seeking to prevent interference with climate, we must do so in a manner that does not threaten food production. I welcome the fact that the Paris Agreement acknowledges the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change. These aspects of the COP agreement are consistent with the European Council ’s decision last year when the 28 EU Heads of State and Governments agreed to adopt sustainable intensification as EU policy on agriculture and climate change.

The Minister also noted that the COP agreement includes a clear recognition of role of forests in mitigating climate change and the need to account for both emissions and removals “ this is something that the Irish Government has been emphasising at EU and UN levels for some years ” . Speaking to an audience of EU officials and stakeholder representatives at the Farm Europe event, Minister Coveney however emphasised that these commitments at COP and in the European Council do not mean that there will be a “free pass ” for agriculture in the global effort to fight climate change. He said that agriculture and forestry could and should play a key role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

 “ In Ireland our ambition is to be a global leader in sustainable food production. We already have a climate efficient agriculture, but we want to do mu ch more and to ensure that we are and remain the most sustainable producer or milk, beef and other products in the world .” The Minister said this commitment was manifest in the strong emphasis of our Rural Development programme, worth almost €4 billion over seven years, on environmental benefits, bringing the latest innovative sustainability research and practices direct to farmers.

There will not be a “free pass” for agriculture

We will continue to implement measures to drive down the greenhouse gas intensity of our food production even further from its already existing efficient level, including through the Beef Data and Genomics programme, the Green Low Carbon agri – environmental scheme and the carbon navigator / knowledge transfer programmes. Our Origin Green programme is also providing unique far m level verification of our carbon footprint and marketing this internationally to buyers who are increasingly focused on the sustainability of the food they buy. At the same time we are sequestering significant quantities of carbon though our forestry pro gramme under which we plan to plant 44,000 hectares over the next five years

The Minister also underlined that Food Wise 2025, our new strategy for the development of the agri – food sector, has sustainable production at its core and sets out a number of specific recommendations aimed at managing growth in a sustainable way and in measuring and monitoring the sustainability credentials of the sector.


Additional Information


1992 UNFCCC (Article 2):

The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Paris Agreement 2015


Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change,

Article 2

Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; 

Article 4.1

In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Article 5.1

Parties should take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1(d), of the Convention, including forests.