Beef is not sustainable, so why are we subsidising it for export?

Ireland should not use other countries’ poor climate record as cover for our own

MaREI researcher Dr Hannah Daly at ERI, University College Cork has written an article for the Irish Times inspired by fresh claims that reducing Irish beef exports would cause an increase in global GHG emissions.

Cutting Irish beef exports to meet national climate commitments would increase global greenhouse gas emissions, Teagasc’s beef enterprise leader has claimed.

This idea of “carbon leakage”, whereby emissions savings from livestock cuts in Ireland would be reversed by increased production elsewhere, has been a long-standing argument used by the livestock sector to deflect ambitious emissions reductions. But scratching below the surface reveals several flaws.

Beef is an extremely carbon-intensive way of producing protein, no matter how it’s produced, and it is not clear that Irish beef is any better than other systems in this regard. Some studies show that beef produced in pasture-based, suckler systems such as Ireland’s has a higher carbon footprint than more intensive feedlot systems.

Read the full article in the Irish Times here.