Hope on the horizon


According to the Environmental and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the projection for 2007-2020 is a low-growth economic outlook. The present economic downturn has led to a corresponding reduction in GHG emissions. 

Carbon sinks are natural or man made reservoirs that store carbon in vast amounts. Forests and oceans are examples of natural carbon sinks, and man-made carbon capture and storage (CSS) is now being attempted on a large scale. UCD are currently undertaking research into CSS through afforestation. The project is funded by the Council for Forest Research and Development.

Recently, the SEAI and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigated the potential for carbon capture and storage (CCS). This involves capturing CO2 from sources such as fossil fuelled power stations and storing it geologically. Because we do not currently have the facilities in this country for CCS, the technology required for its implementation must be 'retrofitted'. The depleted Kinsale Head Gas Field in Co. Cork, which can store up to 330Mt of CO2, has been earmarked as a potential site for this new technology.

The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) is an organisation which promotes the use of wind energy as an alternative to fossil fuel. The counties of Donegal, Kerry and Cavan have the three highest rates of wind power generation in the country. On the East coast, the off-shore wind farm, known as the Arklow bank project, is a joint venture between GE Energy and Airtricity. Off-shore wind farms seem to be even more economically viable than on-shore farms in the long term.

Climate change poses a huge threat to the water resources. The need to preserve and conserve our water supply is another element to be considered in the long term. Action needs to be taken now in order to ensure the sustainability of water supplies. According to the Irish Academy of Engineering report on water, the successful management of future water resources will depend on our ability to implement and adhere to policies that take full account of the risks posed by global climate change.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) was enacted in 2003 to prevent further deterioration of all waters and to restore degraded surface and ground water to good status by December 2015. This directive is implemented on a river basin district level with eight different River Basin Districts (RBDs) on the island of Ireland .

The Association of Irish Energy Agencies (AIEA) website provides more information on Ireland's national and local climate change strategies. They are also involved in a number of projects around the country aimed at sustainable energy use and raising energy awareness.