Irish dairy and agriculture must significantly reduce nitrogen emissions

Ireland's ruling coalition party leaders have reached an agreement to reduce nitrogen emissions from the agricultural sector. Irish farmers are being asked to reduce emissions by 25% by 2030 – taking into account a number of offsetting measures. 

Since the 2020 elections, Ireland has been ruled by a coalition of Liberals, Christian Democrats and Greens. Ireland's total nitrogen emissions must fall by 51% in eight years and reach net zero emissions by 2050 to remain within the coalition agreement. 

The distribution for the various industries is currently being determined. For Irish agriculture, according to previous studies, this should come down to a reduction task somewhere between 22 and 30 percent.

On the last day before the summer break in Dublin, an agreement on the agricultural target has now been reached. Liberal agriculture minister Charlie McConaliogue and environment minister Eaman Ryan (Greens) have long faced each other, and even threatened a government crisis. The 25% compromise means representatives from all three ruling parties are likely to be disappointed.

Agriculture is responsible for 37.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, by far the largest of all sectors. The sector's emissions increased by 3% last year, and agricultural emissions increased for the second year in a row.

The reasons cited are the use of nitrogen fertilizer, a higher number of dairy cows and an increase in milk production. The number of dairy cows has increased for the eleventh consecutive year, while milk production per cow has also increased by 2.5%.

Irish Prime Minister Martin said earlier this week that Ireland must “balance the problem of food security with the problem of climate”.