Photo: Friends of the Earth
Last Updated: 15/02/2007 06:45
Environmental campaign groups will today protest at Dublin Castle against their exclusion from social partners' discussions. Friends of the Earth and Tarawatch are to picket outside the first plenary meeting of the social partners under Towards 2016, which will be opened by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern this morning.
Friends of the Earth claims the Department of the Taoiseach has twice turned down written requests from environmental organisations to discuss their participation in the talks.
"It's absurd that environmental groups are being locked out of social partnership at a time when climate change and energy sustainability are looming large," said Oisin Coughlan of Friends of the Earth.
"When this government was first elected it promised to put the environment at the heart of public policy.
"Now, with Ireland's climate pollution spiralling out of control, Bertie Ahern is refusing to allow environmental groups take part in Towards 2016 discussions. Meanwhile, scientists are telling us 10 years is all the time we have left to stop climate change running out of control," he said.
The organisation is asking all social partners to support the inclusion of environmental groups in the Partnership process.
Tarawatch, which is campaigning to protect the Hill of Tara from the M3 motorway, is also working with other groups in drafting an EU complaint about the exclusion of community environment groups from Social Partnership.
“Instead of consultation and negotiation, we have restriction of information and non-participation.
“We are left with little option but to pursue grievances through the courts, such as at Carrickmines and Tara.”
Friends of the Earth said the Social Partnership meeting comes the day before the Environmental Protection Agency is due to release figures showing that Irelands’ greenhouse gas emissions have risen to 25% above 1990 levels, almost twice the rise the Government committed to under the Kyoto Protocol.
Irish Times Friday, February 16, 2007
The main problem areas: Transport, Energy and Other Sectors
Emissions from transport continue to be the main source of growth in greenhouse gas levels in Ireland. The latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency show that emissions from this sector grew by 7 per cent in 2005 to 13.46 million tonnes, and now stand at more than 150 per cent above 1990 levels.
There have been two main causes of this inexorable growth in emissions. The principal cause is the rise in the number of private vehicles on Irish roads. In 2006 alone, the number of cars, vans and trucks in Ireland grew by 7 per cent to just under 2.3 million. The number of new private cars sold in a given year has increased by more than 160 per cent in the last 10 years to 173,000 last year. In addition, the average private car travels more than 16,000km a year in Ireland, significantly above the European average annual distance, thereby producing greater levels of CO2 emissions.
The second critical factor in the growth of transport emissions has been the trend among Irish consumers to buy larger cars which pollute more.
There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of large-engine vehicles such as SUVs, sports cars and high-performance executive saloons.
Changes in power generation in 2005 were the second significant factor in pushing up greenhouse emissions.
Levels for greenhouse gas emissions from this sector had been temporarily lowered since about 2002 with the temporary closure of two peat power generation plants for refurbishment. The two plants, at Banagher, Co Offaly, and Lanesboro, Co Longford, were closed for major refits, so emissions from the sector were lower than might be expected for much of 2002, 2003 and 2004.
They reopened in late 2004, and 2005 was their first year of full operation. As a result, the emissions from the power generation sector increased from 15.9 million tonnes to 16.4 million tonnes.
According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, there was a significant increase in energy use in Ireland in 2005, and the emissions increases would have been even higher but for a sharp increase in available renewable energy.
The new peat power stations are much more efficient but they produce much higher levels of CO2 for every megawatt of power produced when compared with new gas turbine power facilities. The abandonment of peat-fired stations is not seen as an option by Government because of the jobs involved and the security of supply it gives.
Reductions of emissions in the agriculture sector are the single greatest factor that have prevented greenhouse gas emissions soaring above 70 million tonnes in recent years. The sector, which is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, has seen modest but consistent decreases in emissions throughout the last 10 years.
It now accounts for just over 28 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions produced in Ireland. In 2005 emissions dropped by 1.8 per cent to 19.3 million tonnes.
The two principal sources of emissions in the sector are methane, produced by cattle, and nitrous oxide from fertiliser use.
Recent years have seen a reduction in the national herd size, brought about by agricultural reform at European level, rather than domestic actions. In addition, farming practices have also led to a reduction in fertiliser use, which will continue with the coming into force last year of the EU nitrates directive. There was little change in emissions from the residential sector, which accounts for 10 per cent of emissions, mainly through heating requirements for homes. Industrial process-related emissions have risen, driven mainly by the cement sector.