Published: Fri, 26 June 2015
MEP for Ireland South and European Parliament negotiator on Climate Change, Seán Kelly, has called for a sensible approach to be taken on agriculture as talks heat up ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP21, in Paris in December.
Estimates have shown that the world’s population is set to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, meaning that food production will have to increase by some 70% to meet growing demand. Addressing MEPs, Mr Kelly stressed that this must be considered and allowed for in the Paris negotiations.
“Ambition in Paris is vital, but the food industry is our biggest employer in Europe and is essential to maintaining strong domestic food production. As the population grows and the demand for food increases, this will of course bring an increased carbon footprint. The deal we reach must recognise the relative limited potential to reduce greenhouse gases in agriculture but acknowledge its critical role in food security.
“We must ensure coherence between the EU’s food security and climate change objectives. Our milk and meat production has progressively become less emission-intensive in the EU and this trend of course should be strengthened. However, we have a level of efficiency that is higher than several of our competitors. For this reason, we must be cautious as putting in place overly severe mitigation actions that would displace EU production would clearly be counterproductive.”
The International Climate Conference, which is set to begin on the 30th of November and run until the 11th of December 2015 will seek to agree on a global legally binding agreement to combat Climate Change. MEP Kelly was appointed in April to the coveted role of leading the European Parliament’s committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) in the discussions and will play a key role in the coming months.
In his closing remarks, the Fine Gael MEP was keen to emphasise the importance of sustainable growth: “Through the further improvement of efficiencies and all round sustainable intensification of production, the agri-food sector can optimise its contribution to greenhouse gas mitigation. Through increased innovation and support, farms can also contribute in numerous other ways without jeopardising food production – the integration of renewable energy to displace fossil fuel usage is one of these; biogas produced from wastes and residues, for example, is a promising possibility to meet agricultural energy needs. We need to ensure that the policy directions we take facilitate farmers to contribute in these ways”, he concluded.