Published: Tue, 17 April 2018
MEP for Ireland South and Leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly has welcomed what he considers to be a “pragmatic approach” to the setting of 2030 climate targets following the approval of the text by Parliament this morning (Tuesday).
MEP Kelly, who was lead negotiator for the European People’s Party (EPP) Group Parliament’s ITRE Committee for the important piece of legislation, known as the Effort Sharing Regulation, which sets the binding national emissions reduction targets for Member States, made the following comments after the vote:
“While it was a long and difficult road, I am pleased that the final agreement that we have approved here this morning finds the right balance between having a high level of ambition to reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions, but also allows the required flexibility to ensure we don’t put unfair requirements on our farmers.
“In my work on this file over the past 18 months I have stressed that we must strive to ensure that our actions to combat climate change go hand-in-hand with maintaining the competitiveness of our key sectors in Europe. This was not the view shared by a number of MEPs in Parliament, whose proposals would have decimated the European agricultural sector.
“Thankfully we were able to build strong majorities against the extremes and, with this agreement, we will ensure commitments under the Paris Agreement are fulfilled, but also that our transition to a low-carbon economy is done in a fair and just way.
“The economies of EU Member States are not all the same, and this needed to be taken into consideration in the 2030 target setting – which had not been the case with the 2020 targets. With this legislation, we have ensured the inclusion of two key provisions that will make the system fairer.
“Firstly, Ireland will be allowed to cancel allowances it has been given for emissions from power plants and heavy industry – in practice this would mean we would decide to have 4% less emissions in the power sector, deploy more renewable electricity instead, and then shift these emission allowances to the effort sharing sectors to give more leeway to agriculture, for example. This will allow Ireland the flexibility to ensure that emission reductions are made where it is cost-effective to do so.
“Additionally, this agreement, for the first time, properly recognizes afforestation as a mitigation strategy. Ireland can now incentivize our farmers to increase our forest cover, and this will help us to meet our 2030 targets.
“Agriculture has an important role to play in combatting climate change – this is clear. The agreement we have approved today, which is the product of almost two years of hard work, recognizes that agriculture cannot be treated in the same way as energy and transport. This will help us to ensure our farmers can adapt and contribute effectively to the climate challenge ahead.”