The final Cabinet meeting before the summer break is expected to agree sectoral targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Minister for the Environment and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said agriculture cannot opt out.

Under the Government's Climate Action Plan, which was published last year, the agriculture sector was told it would be obliged to reduce its emissions by between 22% to 30%

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said that every sector of the economy must do everything it can to reach the target of reducing carbon emissions by 2030.

Mr McConalogue said agriculture, food, and marine, like every other sector of the economy, "is willing and stepping up to the plate in relation to playing its part in relation to that".

He said he has been engaging "very constructively across Government over the last number of months in relation to putting that climate action plan together and also in relation to agreeing the sectoral ranges that are in place".

The minister said his key objective is to ensure that Irish farm families get the backing to continue the "really important work that they play in relation to producing healthy, sustainable, nutritious food in this country, while taking every step we possibly can in relation to reducing the emissions profile".

He said it is about identifying "the appropriate balance" for each sector in reaching the targets and like every sector agriculture must do all it can to minimise "in every way the emissions footprint".

Mr McConalogue said: "You would be forgiven for thinking that agriculture is a bogeyman in Ireland in relation to this. We are one of the most sustainable food producing nations in the world. But we want to get even better at that, and we want to be the best in terms of having the lowest emissions profile of how we produce that."

He said every sector and every person will have to play their part, "because climate change is real. The impact it is having is real".

He said central to his engagement at Government level "is striking an appropriate balance between continuing to produce food but minimising in every way possible the emissions footprint of it towards the 51% overall economy wide reduction by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, and that mission and objective is more important for agriculture than for any sector given how dependent we are on the climate in relation to producing food".

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the extreme warm weather across Europe and Ireland is bringing home to people the enormity of climate change, adding that he hopes the issues around sectoral targets would be resolved "in the coming weeks".

He said it is important to be energy efficient in the production of food and that is what the focus will be.

Nothing to be gained from 'divisive fight' over emissions cuts

Separately, Minister Ryan told a farming audience in Co Tipperary that there is nothing to be gained from making carbon emissions reductions a "divisive fight".

He said: "We can make the change with environmentalists and farmers working together."

The minister also said that he and Minister Pippa Hackett will never be involved in "the blame game, the shame game, if only you would do this game".

Speaking at the Energy in Agriculture Show at Gurteen College, Mr Ryan said they wanted to make sure there is an income for a new generation of farmers.

Mr Ryan said he will meet again with the Minister for Agriculture tomorrow and the targets for reduction of greenhouse gases across all sectors will be signed off at next Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

He said the scale of change facing agriculture is so great that it will not work unless everyone is involved. He said people cannot be forced into making the shift, rather it has to be because it makes sense and fits in with people lives.

He said the current system of farming is not working for the vast majority of farmers and does not pay them properly for the skills they have.

The minister was involved with in a vigorous panel discussion with Irish Farmers' Association President Tim Cullinan and a number of others, after which a number of farmers engaged with him over their strong concerns for their futures.

Speaking at the same conference, Mr Cullinan said farmers are willing to accept the 22% target for emissions reductions, at great cost to themselves.

He said there is no point in the Government setting a target farmers cannot achieve. He said 22% is a massive ask of farmers.

Mr Cullinan said the 30% target would cost Irish farmers €4 billion a year and he said the Government must immediately do an analysis of the implications of that target.

He also said that if farmers are forced to reduce food production in Ireland, production will increase in other parts of the world where there is less carbon efficiency.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's health spokesperson has rejected suggestions that the party does not have a position on sectoral emissions targets.

David Cullinane said the party supports the setting of such targets, but it was excluded from the process.

However, he said it could not pinpoint what those targets should be as it does not have adequate data.

Asked repeatedly whether agriculture targets should be at the lower or upper end of the 22-30% range, he said he could not say.

Mr Cullinane said he could not pluck a figure from the air, and any proposals must be workable and possible.

Additional reporting: Joe Mag Raollaigh, Sandra Hurley