Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 were 3.5 percent higher than in 2015.

A report by the EPA shows that Ireland is one of four countries in Europe in which greenhouse gas emissions are still above 1990 levels.

The report states that in the last two years greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 7.3 percent. The EPA attributed this increase to economic and employment growth, particularly in the energy industries, agriculture and transport sectors.

Agriculture is the single largest contributor to overall emissions at 32 percent of the total. Emissions in this sector grew by 2.7 percent in 2016, with the main reason for this being higher dairy cow numbers (6.2 percent increase).

The transport sector has shown an increase of 3.7 percent, with 2016 being the fourth consecutive year that emissions have increased in this sector.

Provisional Greenhouse Gas emissions in Ireland for 2015 and 2016. Source: EPA.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the energy industries sector has shown an increase of 6.1 percent between 2015 and 2016. The EPA said that this increase is due to natural gas use for electricity generation increasing by 27.7 percent and a reduction in electricity generated from wind and hydro renewables.

The figures in the report show that Ireland was in compliance with its 2016 annual limit set under the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), however the EPA’s projections indicate that Ireland will exceed its annual target in 2017.

Dr. Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, said: “Achieving Ireland’s long-term decarbonisation objective can only take place with a transformation of our energy, agriculture and transport systems. We need to adopt a much greater sense of urgency about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while radically improving energy efficiency. In relation to agriculture, Ireland must optimise agricultural production to ensure long term environmental integrity and sustainability. The growth in this sector, particularly for dairy and other cattle, points to very significant risks in relation to meeting our decarbonisation objectives.”

EU member states have agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 under the Paris Agreement. Ireland will also face a fine of €75 million per year if 16 percent of its energy doesn’t come from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Dr Cara Augustenborg, Chairperson of Friends of the Earth Ireland took to Twitter today to express her embarrassment at the release of the figures. She said: “Most EU member states have decreased emissions by 10 to 14 percent while Ireland continues to rise. So utterly embarrassing.”

By Cara Croke

Ophelia to cost between €500 and €800 million

Storm Ophelia made landfall early Monday morning leaving three dead and hundreds of thousands without electricity. Gavin Hyland reports on the recovery operation from the worst storm to hit Ireland in half a century.

The cleanup from storm Ophelia has begun and early estimations expect the damage to cost between €500 and €800 million with hundreds of millions more lost in the shutdown.

Three people lost their lives in Monday’s storm which caused winds of over 100Km/h. Over 80,000 homes are without water with 216,000 homes and business without electricity.

The National Emergency Coordination Group provided updates throughout the day through the Chair of that group, Sean Hogan.

Ophelia image CG
Storm Ophelia caused rough sees around the country on Monday. Source: Irish Coast Guard

RTÉ ran continuous coverage from all over the country, while Met Eireann has been roundly praised for their accurate forecasting of the storm which allowed for planning and warnings days in advance.

Journalist, Alison O’Connor took to Twitter to praise some of the organisations involved as well as the government.

Alison O'C Tweet

Schools and colleges were closed on Monday, with schools remained closed on Tuesday. The Luas also remained closed on Tuesday as its depot in the Red Cow suffered some damage in the storm.

There were reports of at least five rescue operations from the Irish Coast Guard as people failed to heed the warning of authorities and the Taoiseach to remain indoors during the storm.

The National Emergency Coordination Group also reported several near misses involving emergency services personnel.

Videos and images on social media showed trees torn down, school roofs blown off and flooding in Galway, among other structural damage.

ESB has also been praised as over 100,000 people had their power restored Monday night and into Tuesday morning.

The National Emergency Coordination Group also announced that help is being brought in from Scotland and France to help restore power and water to those affected.

The good weather on Tuesday and Wednesday will help the recovery, but bad weather forecast for the weekend will likely delay or setback the recovery.

Storm Ophelia is the worst storm to hit Ireland in over 50 years and although the recovery has begun, it is likely to take days and cost hundreds of millions to return the country to full functionality.