EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has said the agri-food sector must "overhaul radically" its green contribution.
Mr Hogan was speaking in Dublin at a conference about the future of food and farming.
"The agricultural sector urgently needs to step up to the plate and deliver more," said Mr Hogan.
He described Ireland as "sleepwalking towards future EU fines" because of Ireland's failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Ireland is one of only four countries in Europe where greenhouse gas emissions are still above 1990 levels.
He told a "cautionary tale" about how 50,000 cows were slaughtered in the Netherlands so that the dairy industry would meet its targets.
"Ireland has to wake up and wake up soon to the reality that we are part of an EU that has assumed the role of global leader in climate challenges," he said.
Afforestation was also mentioned as a critical strategy.
"The time is gone where we can pay lip service to sustainability and climate action," said Mr Hogan.
He also called for a balance between supply and demand to prevent a build up of product.
Mr Hogan said the growth of the global middle-class has created a demand for dairy products, which is Ireland is well place to exploit.
Last week, the EU announced a reformed Common Agricultural Policy for farmers, however, Mr Hogan said Brexit will place all spending, including the CAP under scrutiny.
In relation to Brexit, he said today is a very important day.
"We want to see a very good and close relationship between the EU and UK when it comes to trade, it's a win win scenario for both sides," he said.
He said the sides should be aiming for a frictionless border and a common sense approach to the future relationship.