The Green Party has fallen far short of its demands for a higher carbon emissions target for the agriculture sector to strike a deal with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
However, the agreement requiring farmers to reduce emissions by 25pc before 2030 has angered the sector with industry bodies saying the target may not be achieved.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan insisted that there were “no winners or losers” in the negotiations after disclosing a 25 percent rate for farmers, which is much less than the 30 pc of what they demanded.
Mr Ryan and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConaughey announced targets for several sectors, all of which were below the upper limit set in the carbon budget.
The low rates for farmers adopted by Fianna Feil and Fine Gail gave rise to anger in the Green Party.
Green Party TD Patrick Costello accused the government of “passing” agriculture despite the high levels of carbon emissions the sector is responsible for.
“We need to see who will take the plunge to pass the agri-business,” Costello said.
Green Senator Vincent P. Martin, brother of Culture Minister Katherine Martin, said it was “disappointing” that an issue that should be “essential” becomes a conversation.
“There is a great deal of work to be done to effectively communicate to the agriculture sector that in addition to being the only right and responsible thing to do, it is an opportunity for betterment, not a burden,” Mr. Martin said.
Dr Kara Augustenborg, a member of the Climate Change Advisory Council, said all three parties in the coalition would be disappointed that they had to compromise during the negotiations, but added: “Unfortunately, the atmosphere does not understand agreement.”
A senior Green Party source said Fianna Feil and Fine Gael spent weeks calling for the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) to “destroy their climate credentials”.
“They have actively argued against reducing emissions while Europe is burning, and there are select lobbyists on the planet. Young people will remember this in the next election.”
Meanwhile, farmer representative groups also criticized the government for failing to keep the target to the lower limit of 22 per cent.
IFA President Tim Cullinan said the deal is “about the survival of the government rather than the survival of rural Ireland”.
“They have no idea of the economic and social impact of today’s decision on the agricultural sector or rural Ireland. Farmers across the country will be worried about what this means for their future,” he said.
Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), said the deal was “out of the sale of the family farm model”.
Mr McCormack said insisting on a 25 per cent cut in the eight-year time frame took the policy from “difficult” to “impossible” and stressed that the targets were no longer credible.
However, Minister McConaughey said farmers were ready to meet emissions targets and stressed that the government would support the sector to make changes.
He said, “People are obviously worried about how we are going to proceed, but as a government we are very determined to support families, back citizens and farming families as they go on this journey. “
The Green Party pointed to a 25 pc reduction in emissions as well as an “add-on” that would focus on encouraging farmers to produce more solar energy, gas, through anaerobic digestion and additional forestry.
Green Party president Pauline O’Reilly, who suggested on Wednesday that the Greens could topple the government on a 22 percent cut, said the cut would increase from 25 pc to 30 pc with “add-ons”.
“We were very concerned with the suggestion that it be pushed to September. Thankfully it was avoided,” she said.
“The conversation was obviously intense. The real task of dramatically changing the farming system while supporting farmers to ensure their income is urgent.”
The government has stressed that farmers will not be forced to change their way of living, but will be encouraged to become more sustainable.
Other sectoral targets will reduce carbon emissions from electricity by 75pc, transportation by 50pc, commercial buildings by 45pc, residential by 40pc and industry by 30pc.
The figures are legally binding and government departments will be responsible for reducing emissions under Remit.
new policies will be
Introduction in the coming years with the aim of achieving the goals. Policies can be changed from year to year based on progress in reducing emissions by a certain sector.
Government subsidies, particularly in the agriculture sector, will depend on farmers reducing funding to meet climate targets.