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Agri–food Leaders call on Stormont to Follow the Science on Climate Change Legislation

18.02.2022

Agri–food Leaders call on Stormont to Follow the Science on Climate Change Legislation

Industry leaders within the agri–food supply chain have said that if passed unchanged, the Executive Climate Change Bill would have devastating consequences, including huge job losses, for the Northern Ireland economy. Their prediction is based on recent work carried out by the management consultancy KPMG which found that there would be in the range 40,000–45,000 job losses across the entire agriculture and agri–food sector and their supply chains (of those 113,000 currently employed in the sector).* The agri–food chiefs also say that the damage done to local food production will require a reliance on food imports that would exacerbate global emissions and increase prices for the consumer.

The employers and businesses behind this warning are represented by the umbrella bodies, the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland; the Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association (NIFDA); Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA), Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA), the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), and the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU). They have formed an alliance to call on Assembly MLAs to rectify the Bill by making meaningful amendments that are in line with the scientific evidence and that support their local communities who rely on this sector for their livelihoods.

Speaking on behalf of the alliance, Conall Donnelly, Chief Executive of NIMEA said:

“To be very clear, our collective members are in support of Climate Change legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We want to play our part. We are already investing in and implementing carbon–reducing technologies right across our supply chain and will continue to do so.

Because of our natural grass advantage, we have a world–class reputation for sustainable food production. Our high quality beef, lamb and dairy produce is reared with care on small family farms and is the envy of many countries around the world.

We believe Northern Ireland has the potential to be a shining light in sustainable food production. We want to work with policy makers to get this right for the environment and the local economy.

That means having realistic and science–based climate change targets relevant to Northern Ireland so that we can continue to be part of the solution to climate change.”

David Brown, Deputy President of the UFU said, 

 “If passed without further amendments, this legislation would not follow the expert advice from scientists that make up the International Panel of Climate Change and the UK’s Climate Change Committee. It could unnecessarily obliterate tens of thousands of jobs as well as threaten consumer access to affordable and high quality food. Perversely, food may need to be imported from elsewhere which would simply increase global emissions.”

“This Bill also has the potential to damage rural towns and communities who depend on our sector for their livelihoods. But it will affect us all as consumers when we are no longer able to access local, fresh food that is produced to high environmental and animal welfare standards.

We are asking politicians to work with us. We want to tackle climate change in a way that helps protect the environment and maintains the unique economic and social role that agriculture and food production has on this island.”

 

Farming and food production In NI supports over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs

 

Extracts from UK Climate Change Committee (UKCCC) Report:

The agri–food sector contribution to the NI economy is valued at £2.5bn. In every scenario for achieving UK Net Zero that we have constructed, Northern Ireland would not get to Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In our Balanced Net Zero Pathway, Northern Ireland would reach an 82% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 compared to 1990 levels excluding engineered greenhouse gas removals.

Northern Ireland would achieve Net Zero CO2 emissions by 2050 as part of the Balanced Pathway to UK Net Zero.

Our current analysis does not show a credible pathway for Northern Ireland to reach Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions (itself) as part of its contribution to the UK Net Zero target. 

We therefore do not recommend that Northern Ireland set a Net Zero target for all greenhouse gases. Instead, Northern Ireland should aim for at least an 82% reduction in all greenhouse gases by 2050.


*An Economic Impact Assessment of the Private Members’ Bill on Climate Change carried out by KPMG for agri–food industry representatives earlier this year projects that a net zero target by 2045 could lead to 13,000 on–farm job losses alone. It also warns of a huge cut to livestock numbers and the loss of billions of pounds in economic output. 

Read the Impact Assessment report here

 

 

 

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From the farm to the fridge, the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland acts on behalf of the dairy industry, promoting the natural goodness and quality of Northern Ireland milk and dairy products.

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