LULUCF - Logic or Lunacy?

At a meeting hosted by Luke Ming Flanagan here in Brussels, speakers outlined what’s coming down the tracks for Irish Farmers and Foresters.  Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, known as LULUCF, was dissected by both the expert scientists and farmers.

LULUCF is designed to account for Green House Gases (GHGs) from land and forestry and fits into the bigger picture of reducing Global Warming. Member states will have to develop a system that accounts for emissions and reductions right across all lands and forests.

A great deal of scepticism was expressed by many of the farmers.  Their experience on other schemes emanating from the European Commission has made them so.  While MEP Flanagan and the guest speakers wanted to inform the Irish farmers of the nature and impacts of LULUCF, invariably the conversation drifted back time and again to complaints of farmers being left high and dry by either the Irish Department of Agriculture or the European Commission.  A representative from the Commission, who had earlier outlined the structure of LULUCF, was left in no doubt that the officials, weather Irish or European, would make life hard for the farmer.

MEP Flanagan pointed out that for once we were ahead of the game and that now was the time to make a real contribution to how this Commission’s regulation will pan out.  “You can’t take the egg out of the cake once the cake is baked, if it’s a bad egg we have to get it out of the system now.  If the Habitats directive had been approached in this way, turf cutters in Ireland would not have had to go through the ringer in the way they did.  The Gardai would not have had to travel into bogs to intervene”.

Gerry Lawson from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (NERC), Edinburgh, demonstrated how in the future the Common Agriculture Policy, CAP, could be changed to have a much greater environmental aspect.  He contended that both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 might have a role to play. Greening is already a very significant part of payments.  He sees LULUCF as part of an evolution in CAP moving form payments tied to production, to decoupled payments and now into Agroforestry based production and other environmentally friendly ways of farming.

He pointed out that Land Parcel Identification System LIPS, was a very powerful tool and something that was very hard to argue with.  He sees LULUCF as a natural progression in how we cater for climate change.

Luke Ming Flanagan wants farmers to engage with the process now.  LULUCF kicks in in 2021, but now is the time to get right.

Paul Cotter