In this paper the tensions between environmental policy, which commits to limiting and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and agricultural policy which seeks to increase agricultural production and agriculture’s contribution to Ireland economic recovery are explored. Results from a partial equilibrium model of the Irish agricultural sector which is capable of simulating the impact of policy change on agricultural activity levels and associated GHG emissions are used to investigate this dilemma. Ireland, as part of the EU Effort Sharing Agreement, has committed to reducing its GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and in the event of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol by 30 percent below the 2005 level of emissions. In Ireland emissions from agriculture account, in a European context, for a very large share of total GHG emissions. Any reduction in Irish national emissions will likely require a reduction in the emissions from agriculture. In this policy context the Irish Government has adopted an ambitious growth strategy for the Irish agricultural sector, known as Food Harvest 2020. The Food Harvest strategy does not explicitly address how such dynamic growth in agricultural production can be achieved while simultaneously reducing GHG emissions from agriculture. This tension between Irish environmental and agricultural policies is likely to be replicated at the European and global levels given the significant contribution of agricultural production to anthropogenic climate change and the role of agriculture in addressing emergent food security concerns.


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