An Taisce welcomes the opportunity provided by this strategic oversight by the Joint Oireachtas Committee (“JOC”) on the Future of the Irish Beef Sector.

Maintaining a habitable planet is dependent on an integrated ecosystem of land, sea and air embedded within a stable climate. This means that environmental sustainability is the overarching and all encompassing consideration which supersedes all others.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015, set out the integrated and overarching framework for considering the future of all human sectoral activities, including agriculture and food production.

All industrial production sectors at national, EU and global level require strategic review to determine their future-proofing to ensure that we maintain a climatically stable and habitable planet for a still growing global population. This applies to all areas of food production as much as to consumer goods and services, energy and resource use.

The Irish Beef sector requires the same level of independent overarching foresight and oversight as the German car industry or the Polish coal sector as much as the beef industries in any other county. There is nothing that makes any Irish industrial sector “special” or exempt from strategic oversight.

At a global level, the sustainability of Irish beef production as part of future international food supply needs to be considered in the same way as oil and gas consumption, the central Asian cotton industry, the Brazilian beef or soya industry or South East Asian Palm Oil production, all of which are responsible for major land use, greenhouse gas emission or biodiversity loss impacts.

  1. An overview of any national food production sector, such as is being advanced in this case for the Irish beef industry, needs to take a global perspective on the current, continuing and future role of that sector in the following key areas:
  2. Ensuring that it is part of an overall strategy for its sector to meet the Paris Agreement Carbon Budget target of stabilizing global temperature as near as possible to 1.5℃ over pre-industrial levels, which inevitably requires immediate, deep and accelerating emission cuts;
  3. That it meets and does not conflict with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) including global health and well-being, sustainable consumption, climate action and reversing biodiversity loss;
  4. That it is ethically justified in its resource consumption, production and consumer impact in meeting planetary nutrition needs in accordance with the Climate Justice principles which are incorporated into the Irish Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015;
  5. That it advances United Nations Environment Programme (“UNEP”) policy in achieving a more plant-based diet to meet global nutrition needs;
  6. That it is future-proofed and assessed under the nine planetary boundaries, defined by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, namely:

i. Climate Change
ii. Novel Entities (not yet quantified)
iii. Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
iv. Atmospheric Aerosol Loading (Not yet quantified)
v. Ocean Acidification
vi. Biochemical Flows
vii. Freshwater Use
viii. Land-System Change
ix. Biosphere Integrity

Download the submission here.