The president of ICMSA has urged the Government to be extremely vigilant about what he termed ‘increasingly worrying signs’ that the latest EU Commission proposals on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) will be ratified in a manner that will bear very disproportionately on Ireland.

John Comer said the latest commission proposals on the reduction of emissions involved a cut of 30 per cent on the 2005 levels with that effort to be “shared equitably between the member states” in the Commission’s phrase.

Comer said alarm bells should begin ringing upon notice of the word ‘equitably’.

“The very important question immediately arises as to who defines the equity involved. In the case of Ireland, the production of food is proportionately much less environmentally damaging than in almost any other member state and the value of the food produced in export terms is similarly proportionately more important. Against that background, how would the Commission intend to ‘equitably’ share the compulsory reductions amongst the member states,” he asked.

ICMSA is urging vigilance on this development.

It stressed an across-the-board broadly similar reduction in all the member states is most certainly not an equitable proposal because our food production is proportionately less environmentally damaging than most other member states.

“Similarly, our food sector is proportionately much more important than every other member state so Ireland cannot countenance any kind of so-called ‘equity’ that does not factor in exactly the relative cost of food production in each Member State in respect of emissions and – just as important – the proportionate importance of that food production to the economies of each Member State,” added Comer.

Noting that the summit of the commission’s 2030 targets is set for 21 March, the ICMSA president said Ireland must not be ‘bounced’ into any agreement that imposes a bogus and crude notion of ‘equity ‘on the reductions of GHG demanded of each member state.

“ICMSA would question the statement that efforts aimed at achieving the 2030 reduction targets are to be ‘shared equitably’ between the member states, we would argue – and we’d urge the Irish Government to insist – that efforts to achieve the 2030 reduction targets in respect of agriculture should be based in direct proportion to the relative environmental cost of food production in each member state and also the proportionate importance of food production in each member state.  That strikes us as a great deal more equitable than any kind of across-the-board, crude, percentage reduction,” he concluded.

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