The Signpost programme is a collaborative programme to lead climate action by Irish farmers and the transition towards more sustainable farming systems.
- Reduce agricultural emissions specifically: Reduce agricultural GHG emissions to the range 17.5 – 19.0 MtCO2 eq. by 2030 see Climate Action Plan 2019 (PDF) and Reduce ammonia emissions by 5% below 2005 levels by 2030 - see Teagasc Ammonia MACC (PDF)
- Reduce nutrient loss to the environment and contribute to improved water quality and biodiversity
- Promote and develop economically sustainable farming systems, including diversification of land use for climate action
The Signpost programme is an initiative by Teagasc. It is being run in collaboration with all relevant industry partners and state bodies, such as Bord Bia.
Climate Neutral by 2050
Climate change is perhaps the greatest environmental challenge facing the world. Both the EU and Ireland have committed to becoming climate neutral economies by 2050. 2020 was one of the warmest years on record, with average global temperatures reaching 1.2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Under the Paris Agreement, Ireland, and other countries, have committed to limiting temperature rise to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees. Both ambitions are reflected in the December 2020 published Ag Climatise roadmap, with a vision of “developing a climate neutral food system by 2050”.
What does this mean for farming and Irish farmers?
Farming is uniquely placed to be part of the solution, as both an emissions source and sink. Farmers must continue to protect carbon stored in our soils, while also doing more to both reduce emissions and store even more carbon in our soils.
There is a range of measures which farmers can take to reduce emissions (5, 6, 7), and they fall under three broad headings:
- Improved productivity and technical efficiency;
- Improved land management and changing land use to capture more carbon; and
- Increased production of both renewable energy and bio-energy (displacing fossil fuels).
At the same time, Irish farmers will continue to produce high quality, nutritious and healthy food to feed a growing global population. See also:
- Improving Farm Sustainability
- Fact Pack - Climate Change and Irish agriculture
- Time for Climate Action - An Analysis of the Cost of the Abatement of Ammonia Emissions in Irish Agriculture to 2030
The ambition for a climate neutral food system is a national target, and may not be achievable on every farm. Every farmer has to set out on the journey and make as much progress as is possible on their farm. This will involve the increased adoption of sustainable farming practices,for some it may involve a change of farming system.
Achieving a climate neutral food system will require a whole of industry approach and will include:
- milk and meat processors
- other agricultural sector stakeholders
- Teagasc and other State Agencies, and
By working together, with a shared ambition, we can achieve a climate neutral food system by 2050. That journey needs to start now.