As lovers of walking and immersing ourselves in nature and the countryside, we want to look after and protect our planet for many years to come.
We have young families that we want to preserve the earth for and we want to be able to enjoy and marvel at all of the beauty mother nature has created.
Climate change is in the forefront of our minds at the moment with images and comments all over the news and social media and here in Ireland we are locked into a pattern of rising CO2 emissions, most notably in transport, agriculture and heating.
So how does Ireland fare in the fight against climate change? What are we doing already as a country and what can we as an individual do that will make a difference?
A big success story here in Ireland is our power generation. Ireland is close to achieving 40% electricity generation from renewable energy sources by 2020 which a great achievement.
With a national grid now able to take a large and wide variety of renewables, there is potential for that to be scaled up to at least 70% - well done Ireland.
The goal here in Ireland is to achieve 16% renewable energy use by 2020. In spite of generating big amounts of onshore wind thought this target is looking like it will missed while most other EU countries will meet their commitments.
If 2020 arrives without us having hit this target then fines will be applied on a yearly basis until we do. In turn more demanding targets are being set for 2030 which we need to keep up with.
This means that the next budget will have to make allowance for fines of up to €200 million for missing our targets here in Ireland.
Heating and energy efficiency
Heating buildings using fossil fuel boilers accounts for more than 30% of Irish emissions, a huge figure and something that has to be changed.
Up to 2 million homes in Ireland need to be refurbished to become as close as possible to ‘zero carbon’ and this is a big and costly job.
To put this into context; 100,000 houses a year are needed to be retrofitted every year for the next 20 years to make the difference that we need.
Agriculture is a big contributing factor to our countries carbon commissions but this is also a huge industry for us.
Emissions from agriculture account for a third of all Irish emissions and this figure is increasing. ‘Smart farming’ has been shown to reduce emissions arising from farming and this may be the way forward.
Transport emissions are on the rise too and the sale of cars using fossil fuels is to be banned by 2030.
Sales of electric vehicles including are increasing, but not quickly enough.
The Government has planned to have 500,000 electric vehicles on our roads by 2030.
As painful as it might be to hear, our carbon tax needs to and probably will increase.
The taxing of polluting behaviour in the burning of fossil fuels is currently low, at a €20 per tonne. This figure is insufficient to prompt the widespread adoption of greener fuels and the renewable energy that is needed.
No we don’t want to be paying out more in taxes, but this is something that really does need to be done.
The Government has unveiled a €500 million Climate Action Fund with a view to finding innovative solutions.
Exactly how this money is going to spent is still anyone’s guess, but we are really hoping that this will be the start of bringing our countries carbon emissions down much more dramatically.
What can you do
Critical to achieving these new goals and fighting for climate change from our part of the world is the recognition from us as consumers that transformation in the way we live is needed today; not tomorrow.
It is too easy for us to say ‘oh what difference is it going to make if I recycle or ride my bike instead of my car’ but this is the difference that is needed. If everybody in Ireland adopted that attitude we would see carbon emissions fall incredible.
Although our government do need to take action, we do too. We aren’t going to see carbon emissions fall until we, the individual jump onboard and start fighting climate change in our homes, as a single person or family.
Here are some things you could change straight away:
-Choose renewable energy suppliers where you can and put pressure on our government to increase the choice in renewable energy
-Change your transport habits; if you can walk/ride a bike, then do. Stop and think ‘do I need to take the car our today’ or hop on a bus/train, consider public transport as an option.
-Use energy wisely; wash your clothes on a cool wash, change to energy-efficient light bulbs and don’t use a clothes dryer.
-Change your diet; consume less meat, grow your own food and buy organic.
-Consume less; buy second hand items - furniture, clothing. Share things that you have so people need to buy less.
-Use less plastic; take a little time out when shopping to actively look for products with less packaging, especially plastic.
-Talk about it; chat to others about climate change, make it a normal topic of conversation and get others thinking about this huge issue too.