Farmers feel completely scapegoated in the discussions on reducing carbon emissions, the Oireachtas Environment and Climate Action committee heard today.
Irish Farmers' Association director of policy, Tadhg Buckley said farmers feel unduly targeted and while they accept they have a role to play, he said the growth in cattle was very small relative to growth in other parts of the economy.
The IFA cited statistics that the number of cattle in Ireland remained the same between 1999 and 2019.
However, it said that over the same period, Irish vehicle numbers rose by 75% while the number of passengers through Dublin Airport increased by 155%.
Oisín Coghlan of the Irish Environmental Pillar disputed the assertion.
He said that on the contrary, famers were not being scapegoated and he pointed out that agriculture had been given the least demanding emissions cuts targets of between 22% and 30%.
Mr Coghlan said that he acknowledged that until recently, agriculture emissions had not risen to the same extent as transport but he said they also had not fallen to the same extent as the electricity sector.
He also said it was worth noting that unless each sector hit the more demanding end of the sectoral targets, Ireland would not reach the legally binding goal of reducing emissions by 51% by 2030.
The Climate Action committee is continuing its examination of the carbon budgets drawn up by the Climate Change Advisory Council.
The carbon budgets propose cutting emissions by an average of 4.8% each year until 2025 and by 8.3% each year from 2025 until 2030.
David Joyce of the Irish Council of Trade Unions said it was untenable that the promised Just Transition Commission would not be operational until 2023.
He asked that the committee act to ensure that this is prioritised.
"Without a vehicle for structured social dialogue we have no roadmap on how to get there," he said.
Mr Joyce said there was no data on the number or type of jobs to be lost during transition and whether jobs lost will be replaced by high quality employment.
Ictu is calling for a new mandatory requirement that every sectoral emissions ceiling is accompanied by an employment impact report.