New data released this week by Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals the major role of the dairy industry in growing greenhouse gas emissions. The figures show that the country emitted 61.19 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2016, which represents a 3.5 percent increase from 2015. In the previous four years, the number of dairy cows in Ireland has increased by 22 percent, and greenhouse-gas emissions have subsequently increased by eight percent during that time. Every nation in the world—excluding the United States—is currently working to “decarbonize” (or reduce greenhouse gas emissions) in order to fight global climate change under The Paris Agreement. Eimear Cotter, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, said that the growing dairy industry is a major hindrance to the country’s ability to meet its climate change goals. “The growth in this sector,” Cotter said, “particularly for dairy and other cattle, points to very significant risks in relation to meeting our decarbonization objectives.”
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