The Greenhouse Gas Implementation Partnership looks to the future

The Greenhouse Gas Implementation Partnership (GHGIP), established in 2011, is a Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)-chaired partnership initiative, comprising government, agri-food industry and environmental stakeholders as well as research and knowledge transfer providers.

The partnership was charged with the responsibility of ensuring that local food production is undertaken in the most carbon efficient manner possible.

The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) has been actively involved with GHGIP from the outset, and is current chair of the red meat sub-group of the partnership.

Greenhouse Gas Implementation Partnership

Commission CEO Ian Stevenson commented: “The partnership has successfully rolled out two five-year implementation plans, the outworkings of which have made a very real and significant contribution to the response of the farming industry to the challenges posed by global warming.

In the initial stages of its work, GHGIP set out to raise awareness and educate farmers regarding the impact of greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions from a climate change perspective, and how agriculture can help to mitigate emissions through a focus on efficiency within production systems.

“This work took place alongside the work of the Sustainable Land Management Strategy which considered the impact that ammonia emissions from local farms is having on our environment, and potential options for mitigation of these.”

GHGIP action points

Stevenson explained that as it evolved, GHGIP identified a number of critically important action points.

He said the implementation of those action points fundamentally shaped best practice on the ground, where climate change mitigation measures within farming and food are concerned.

“GHGIP members are now looking towards the future and the development of the next phase of partnership working. However, I feel there is a lot to be learned at this stage from a review of the principles agreed for the second GHGIP action plan, covering the period 2016 to 2020,” Stevenson added.

The implementation of this initiative has seen a sea change in the way that many farmers view GHG emissions and the issue of climate change.

“But, in many ways, it is still a work in progress and continues to offer production agriculture with viable solutions, when it comes to securing the future sustainability of the industry as a whole.”

Farm business development groups

Ian Stevenson points to the establishment of farm business development groups as an excellent example of the strategies espoused by the GHGIP.

Today 3,200 farmers are involved in these groups, covering all facets of agriculture in Northern Ireland.

The LMC representative commented: “This initiative is helping to drive new thinking at grassroots levels, with a very strong focus on productivity, resilience, supply chain and future sustainability.

The work has been complemented by the support given courtesy of the current Rural Development Programme.”

“The introduction of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme is an excellent example of how the action points agreed by GHGIP have been facilitated in a very practical and meaningful way, e.g. through the widespread use of Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment [LESS].

“The funding opportunities agreed for the current Rural Development Programme will remain in place until 2023. As a consequence, the proposed measures contained with the second GHGIP implementation plan will remain very relevant for the next two years,” he concluded.