Laurence Shalloo was very clear in his talk at the Teagasc Moorepark Open Day. He said that the policy must be informed by the science.

“All of these reports say we don’t need to reduce methane to zero to reduce the warming effect,” he said.

Addressing the crowd at Moorepark, he stated: “We need policy, and you need to ensure that your policymakers give us policy that’s based on science. The most recent IPCC report and the Oxford work is all showing that biogenic methane is a flow gas that’s oxidised in the atmosphere and shouldn’t be counted the same.

“We need our climate budgets and the climate change council to accept that and to include that in our overall package as we go forward.”

Carbon footprint

However, Shalloo did explain that we still need to reduce methane and farmers need to think about methane and their overall carbon footprint and farm sustainability.

“You need to know your numbers and you need to put plans in place to change those numbers, whether its biodiversity levels, carbon footprint or nitrogen surplus.”

Irish dairy farms have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, but they can be reduced further and doing this can make the business more economically and environmentally sustainable.

The Teagasc researcher added that with the challenges that lie ahead on climate come new opportunities.

“There will be new business opportunities, whether it’s capturing carbon in soils, hedgerows or carbon farming. This whole climate debate will create opportunities.”