A recently formed group of farmers, academics and legal experts are developing a certification and validation system for carbon removal from agricultural forestry.
The Carbon Removals Action Group (CRAG), created last October, currently has between 50 and 60 members.
Group President John Hourigan said Agriland that his training was born out of conversations about the carbon footprint of agriculture.
The Limerick dairy farmer, who owns 100 acres of forest, said he expects the government to come up with a system in which farmers have a net carbon footprint.
“But the penny has slowly come down that the government does not intend to give us credit for removing carbon, they will only consider what we produce.
“The government has produced Ireland’s carbon footprint. They added five million tonnes of CO2 removed by Irish forestry and deducted it from the total to get our [national] net carbon production.
“Of the five million tonnes of CO2 removed by forestry, half belongs to farmers, because they own half of Ireland’s forestry,” Hourigan said.
The president of CRAG argues that climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
“My point of view is that the government and the powers that be have no interest in putting us in a good position. If we had a government interested in making Irish agriculture carbon neutral it would be very easy to do so. They basically want us [farmers] be the whipping boys, ”Hourigan said.
The farmer said after learning he couldn’t use carbon credits from his forestry to offset his dairy business, he started selling them.
But, he said, the government is unwilling to facilitate a business that will deal with carbon credit transfers.
“A transfer company that wants to offset its carbon numbers against forestry is not allowed to do so, so it will be difficult to sell carbon credits, but they are salable internationally,” he said. he declares.
Although CRAG has yet to formally contact the government about its concerns, Hourigan said he plans to hold a conference on the issue of ownership of carbon removal from agricultural forestry, at which politicians will be invited.
“The way our government behaves, it wants to confiscate our property rights in terms of carbon reduction. ”
He said the group was ready to take legal action over the matter.
As mentioned, CRAG is currently in the process of setting up a certification and validation system with academics, for farmers, regarding carbon removals from forestry.
According to Hourigan, some academics said this needs to be quantified over a 100-year cycle, but he said most of them agreed that once forestry is replanted after logging, it is considered continuous.
He said forest harvesting in an area could be staggered to enable this, but said delaying harvest would require financial support for farmers.
Hourigan acknowledged that methane is a very volatile greenhouse gas (GHG) and causes global warming, but he asserted that methane from ruminants is not a GHG:
“If methane from ruminants was capable of causing global warming, then they must be very bad because they have been around for 40 million years. “
He said he believed the increase in the domestic ruminant population was being offset by a decline in the numbers of wild ruminants, such as bison, deer and elk.
“The average cow will eliminate between 10 and 15 t / CO2 per year through the grass she eats, no one ever mentions it, she is only interested in the methane she produces”, he said. concluded.