Speaking to the Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security, Professors Richard Tol and John Fitzgerald of the Economic and Social Research Institute argued harsh terms will have to be imposed in order to meet the cut of 20% by 2020.

The Irish Times reports that the pair said the target is onerous and that carbon taxes may be the only way it could be met.

Professor Tol said a tax of Euro 4,000 per tonne of CO2 would be required, which would result in a Euro 2 to Euro 3 addition to the cost of petrol.

The levels of CO2 produced by the production methods in the livestock industry were highlighted as something that, if reduced, could help achieve the targets.

“If we had to meet the target and it was an absolute imperative, the cheapest thing to do would be to get rid of all our livestock,” said Professor Fitzgerald.

“But it would be a lunatic thing to do. It would do nothing for the world. They would just be bred in Brazil or elsewhere.”

According to the International Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Report published last year, the world’s livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global warming emissions, compared to 13% from all the world’s transport combined.

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