Global temperatures have increased by more than 1°C since pre-industrial times. Scientists warn that without increases in both ambition and action warming will exceed 20C by the end of the century, possibly by a considerable margin. These changes have the potential to have a devastating impact on the world’s environment and food security.
Global temperature change (1850-present)
Urgent action is needed in all countries and sectors including agriculture to reduce emissions, increase carbon removals/sequestration and prepare to adapt to the changing climate. The world also faces food and nutrition, energy, and biodiversity crises, and our actions must deal with all the challenges in a co-ordinated manner. Agriculture must therefore maintain/increase food production, reduce emissions, increase sequestration, improve biodiversity and contribute to energy security, whilst also ensuring economic and social sustainability.
This Climate Action Strategy focuses on climate, but the actions will contribute to sustainability on a much wider level.
The Irish Government set a target of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (5.75 Mt CO2eq) for the agriculture sector. As part of its Climate Action Strategy, Teagasc has set out a road map on how this can be achieved without impacting on the competitiveness of the agri-food sector.
To achieve this, Teagasc is significantly increasing its resources devoted to climate related research and knowledge transfer.
The three key pillars of the new Climate Action Strategy are:
- A Signpost Advisory Programme
- A Sustainability Digital Platform and;
- A Virtual National Centre for Agri-food Climate Research and Innovation
Signpost Advisory Programme
The Signpost Advisory Programme is a new service which Teagasc aims to make available to all farmers, to allow them to know their current emissions and sequestration, make a plan to improve, help them with the implementation of the plan, and track progress.
A team of 30 advisors will commence the programme in 2023 and Teagasc plan to increase this significantly in subsequent years as well as supplementing the in-house team with outsourced resources.
Sustainability Digital Platform
The Sustainability Digital Platform is a major digital resource to allow farmers ‘count’ carbon emissions and sequestration on their farm, and its decision support capability allows advisors work with farmers to develop tailored sustainability plans and track progress.
This platform is being developed in collaboration with ICBF and Bord Bia, and it will be central to the Signpost Advisory Programme.
National Centre for Agri-Food Climate Research and Innovation
The virtual National Centre for Agri-food Climate Research and Innovation will accelerate the development of new technologies by co-ordinating and accelerating research and innovation programmes across Teagasc, as well as with other institutes, both in Ireland and internationally. Twenty four new scientific staff will be added to the centre in the current phase of recruitment, and additional staff, facilities and equipment are planned.
The changes that will happen on farms over the next decade constitute a major transformation of the Irish agri-food production system. Teagasc is committed to playing its role alongside farmers, industry and government.
“The overall aim of the Teagasc Climate Action Strategy is to empower farm families to adopt new technologies and production systems that will allow agriculture to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 while maintaining farm profitability”