State should establish new fund to help farmers with climate transition - NESC

‘Critical’ to recognise the costs of transition in agriculture, to share them equitably and to address or mitigate them

A fund to support farmers in the climate transition should be put in place by the Government, according to the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

The advisory council was asked by the Government to research how best to support a just transition in agriculture, as part of the Climate Action Plan 2021. In a new report, Just Transition in Agriculture and Land Use, the NESC says tackling environmental challenges must be addressed together with intersecting economic and social challenges, and made 20 recommendations as to how farmers and other stakeholders can be supported to reach climate targets.

Ireland has committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with the agriculture sector required to make a 25 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

The NESC report makes recommendations across four key areas: building more inclusive processes, enabling opportunities, sharing costs, and co-ordinating action.


The report said that it is “critical” to recognise the costs of transition in agriculture, to share them equitably and to address or mitigate them. The council recommended that a just transition in agriculture and land use fund should be established, consolidating available carbon tax revenues and other public resources.

The council also recommended acceleration of work on accounting for nature, as well as significantly increasing financial resources and rewards available to farmers for protecting and enhancing ecosystems.

NESC noted that specific targeted supports will be necessary for people spacing specific costs due to transition policies or measures, and that the current spectrum of supports should be examined to ensure that no one vulnerable to transition in agriculture is left behind.

The council said that mechanisms for supporting the just transition in agriculture should be at a scale and extent comparable to the LEADER programme for Rural Development, including resourcing for regionally focused transition teams.

To encourage socially inclusive dialogue and participation, NESC recommended that the Government undertake a “deep and wide” process of further engagement with stakeholders nationally, as well as creating a shared island collaboration and dialogue around climate and agriculture, and building on impactful local and context-specific climate innovations that could be scaled up nationally.

The report also recommended that bespoke biological expertise should be provided at farm level to provide people with the skills and knowledge to adopt new approaches, and that Government should work to address specific barriers to transitioning such as sociocultural barriers, policy inconsistencies and uncertainty around future markets.

Other recommendations made by NESC include the establishment of an implementation group to consider the recommendations arising from the report, and that the report should inform and shape the next stages in the development of the national land use review, which is currently under way and being managed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is an Irish Times journalist.