If Ireland cuts back on beef and dairy production, other countries with less environmental protection will just increase their output, according to Ciara Kelly.
The Newstalk Breakfast presenter was speaking as the Government confirmed plans to cut the national herd by 10% within the next seven years.
An updated Climate Action Plan going before Cabinet this week will aim for a 20% reduction in cars and a 10% reduction in cattle to reduce Ireland’s emissions.
Ciara said she supports plans to reduce the number of cars on the road – but not the national herd reduction.
“The reason I don’t want us to cut the national herd is this: I happen to believe that global warming is a global issue,” she said.
“I’m not saying oh but what about China? That’s not what I mean. What I mean is each country - each environment - on the planet should play to its strengths.
“We probably shouldn’t be eating avocados. That should be the proviso of people who live in California and Israel.
“Other countries should live on fish but cows are natural to our habitat insofar as they can live on grass, fresh air and water.
“We are highly efficient and as sustainable as you can be in terms of production of cattle and milk compared to places like Texas and South America.
“If we stop producing it, someone else is going to produce it and it is going to be worse.”
Fellow presenter Shane Coleman said it will be “impossible” for Ireland to hit its climate targets without reducing the heard.
He said one third of the country’s greenhouse gases come from agriculture – with methane accounting for the vast majority of that.
Ciara said agriculture is an industry the country can rely on – even if we are faced with another recession.
“It is an indigenous industry and when we say things like we’re highly reliant on things like corporation taxes from FDI form big tech companies, that’s something that we don’t struggle with, with agriculture,” she said.
“We can do it here; we produce it here. It is our own.”
When emissions reduction targets were agreed in the summer, agriculture was handed the lowest goal of all industries at 25%.
Meanwhile, electricity generation is being asked to reduce emissions by 75% while transport is being asked to reduce by 50%.
The 25% target for agriculture was agreed following weeks of talks between environment Minister Eamon Ryan and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Minister Ryan said every sector must step up to the plate to reduce emissions.