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“Our Family Farmers deserve Fairness” - MacManus & The Left launch study on carbon leakage

14 February, 2023 - by Chris MacManus MEP

“Our Family Farmers deserve Fairness” - MacManus & The Left launch study on carbon leakage

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus and The Left launch study on carbon leakage in the agri-food sector

Tonight, Sinn Féin and The Left group in the European Parliament launched an important study on how to combat carbon leakage in the agri-food sector. The launch involved a lively discussion with the author, the esteemed Professor Emeritus Alan Matthews from Trinity College’s Department of Economics, and around 20 MEPs.  

Speaking after the launch MacManus said: “Many people will never have heard the term carbon leakage, and it can seem a bit abstract at first. However, it can be explained very simply. To give an example, carbon leakage can be a situation where EU farmers must increase food prices for consumers to account for the increasing costs they face, as they invest in making their model of production more carbon efficient i.e., releasing less carbon emissions into the atmosphere. As a result of these increased food prices, customers choose to buy more products that are imported into the EU, even though these products are produced in a way that releases more carbon emissions into the atmosphere; think about buying a steak in the EU that was produced by burning down the Brazilian rainforest, instead of an Irish grass-fed suckler steak.”

“Over time, EU farmers, who are the more environmentally friendly producers, lose their customers and producers from non-EU countries increase their production size, to supply their new EU customers. The outcome is poorer EU farmers and an overall net release of more carbon into the atmosphere.” 

“We use the term carbon leakage because it represents us trying to reduce emissions from our end, but a leak occurs, in the form of carbon emissions increasing in other parts of the world. In order to avoid this, we need to make sure our farmers are not being undercut by carbon intensive imports. It’s about fairness for our farmers.”

MEP MacManus complimented the work of the study’s author Professor Emeritus, Alan Matthews, “Professor Matthews has done an impressive job at examining what tools are available to EU policy makers to fix this problem. His proposals include signing environmental agreements with our trade partners, adjusting the tariffs we apply to other countries, important standards, and mandatory due diligence obligations.” 

“This issue is of particular importance to me because it is about delivering fairness for Irish and European family farmers. Famers are our best allies in transforming our global food system to make it more sustainable. In order to guarantee their support, we must fairly reward them for the environmental restoration they engage in and protect them from unfair competition, in particular when that competition is selling a product that comes at a heavy cost for the planet.” 
“By demanding our trade partners raise their standards to match ours, we are not only looking after ourselves but also indirectly benefiting the citizens of non-EU countries, who agree to meet our standards.  It is a clear win-win.”

“I fully understand that raising the bar can risk locking out developing countries from global trade. We cannot compromise on safety and protection, but we can reach out and share our knowhow and technology, to help them lock in their own farm viability and sustainability.” 

“This launch is certainly not the end of the road; rather it is a conversation starter. Over the coming months, I hope to engage with the European Commission on this topic further.” 

“Finally, I would like to sincerely thank Professor Matthews for his work, and I encourage everyone to read the study.” ENDS

Below: Chris MacManus MEP speaking at the launch of the study on carbon leakage in the agri-food sector


Below: Front Cover of report by Professor Emeritus Alan Matthews from Trinity College’s Department of Economics


Below: Professor Emeritus Alan Matthews addresses attendees at the launch

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