Phil Hogan brings Environmental Reality to FoodWise2025 Event

4th December 2017
Press Release

An Taisce welcomes the strong statements issued today by EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan at the Food Wise 2025 conference in Dublin.

Commissioner Hogan echoed the repeated criticisms made by environmental NGOs, including An Taisce, when he warned today that Ireland’s dire performance on climate change sees us “sleepwalking towards further EU fines under the renewable energy directive by our lack of investment in the energy grid”.

The Commissioner added that: “Ireland needs to wake up, and fast, to the reality that we are part of a European Union that has assumed the role of global leader in the climate challenge. Donald Tusk said that in relation to Brexit, 'we are all in this together – ní neart go cur le chéile'. That is equally true of the climate challenge.”

The Commissioner pointed out that the recently published Climate Change Performance Index had seen Ireland plummet 28 places to 49th out of 56 countries, and is now the very worst ranked performer on climate change in the entire European Union.

But, all economic sectors must play their part and policies, including those relating to the agri-food sector, need to play some serious catch-up to ensure that targets are met.

Mr Hogan added that other sectors beyond the agriculture industry were also implicated, but he added: “the most recent EPA figures are sobering, showing an increase in agricultural emissions last year by 2.7 per cent, following a 1.5 per cent increase in 2015. It's little consolation that emissions are growing faster in the energy and transport sectors”.

And in what sounded like a thinly veiled rebuff to the IFA, which has championed denial and delay on facing up to climate action, Commissioner Hogan added: “I am making the point at this conference to remind you that the day has gone where we can pay lip service to sustainability and climate action”.

Mr Hogan was also critical of the “rhetoric” of sustainability contained in the industry-written Food Wise 2025 document and what he called “operational reality”. He pointed to official EPA figures showing a 3.5 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions last year. He added “Ireland is one of only four countries in the European area where greenhouse gas emissions are still above 1990 levels. A failure to tackle the issue could cost the country large sums of money in relation to carbon credits by 2020”.

Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce’s Communication Officer, who also spoke at the event, stated “we welcome the fact that Commissioner Hogan has today said out loud exactly what we and others in the environmental NGO have been repeatedly attacked for saying publicly, that there is no time left for obfuscation and lip service".

Charles Stanley-Smith continued “Much of the ‘green’ rhetoric emanating from the industry via organisations like Bord Bia is greenwash designed to confuse the public and mislead the media about the true high emissions pathway Ireland is locked into, and the massive costs, both ecological and economic, that this entails.”

An Taisce also warmly welcomes comments today from EPA chief, Laura Burke, who stated that Ireland cannot continue to promote ourselves as “green and clean” and have “spin that isn’t matched by reality”.

These are precisely the points we at An Taisce have been ridiculed for trying to make. We very much welcome today’s dramatic interventions by both Commissioner Hogan and Laura Burke.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland i www.antaisce.org

Notes

Also see Seán Cummins Dec 4, 2017, 4:58pm Agriland - We won’t meet climate change targets unless we stop eating meat’ Charles Stanley-Smith speaking at Foodwise2025 today. http://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/we-wont-meet-climate-change-targets-unless-we-stop-eating-meat/

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.