Ireland and the Global Carbon Story


Ireland’s place in the global carbon story and the problem of reducing CO2 emissions is full of seeming paradox. The island is still mostly covered with plants, virtually lacks heavy industry and is relatively lightly populated. It ought, one might think, to be largely a carbon ‘sink’, absorbing CO2 from the air through natural processes and emitting comparatively little through human activity.

The use of Irish land for farming, industry and transportation, however, generates much CO2, We rely heavily on imported goods, whose manufacture boosts CO2  emissions elsewhere. We are widely distributed, highly mobile, use a lot of energy, take a lot of flights and drive a lot of cars and lorries. In 2008, the EU asked Ireland to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020, compared with the output in 2005 (one of the higher targets), and to increase the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and wave power.


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