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Clean air campaigners take over South William Street

Climate Green News Ireland


'July 20th, 2019 A coalition of active transport campaign groups and Extinction Rebellion Ireland have blocked South William Street this morning to highlight the capital’s air pollution and transport problems.As of 10 am this morning, the grouping – made up of Dublin Cycling Campaign, Dublin Commuter Coalition, the Irish Pedestrian Network, and XR Ireland – is blocking vehicles for entering South William Street at the junction with Wicklow Street.Activists wearing anti-pollution masks say that they plan to continue the campaign with a series of similar actions on streets around Dublin until the Government gets the message that “streets are for people, not cars”. The coalition said that it wants to create a space for pedestrians on the narrow street that is lined with shops, bars, and cafes and “fight back against the dominance of motor vehicles”. Today’s action comes justdays after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported thatNitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in areas of the capital have exceeded EU limits.Pollution hotspots include the M50 motorway, the entrance to and exit from the Dublin Port Tunnel, and certain city centre streets.NO2 levels can vary depending on the density and type of vehicle, as well as the weather condition and road size.We have occupied South William Street and declared a #CleanAirZone until 7pm.A viable pedestrian plan has been stalled for almost a decade on this street. #StreetsAreForPeople pic.twitter.com/avArSHcb3y — Cllr.Neasa Hourigan (@neasa_neasa) July 20, 2019 Janet Horner of the DublinCycling Campaign said that she was extremely concerned about the levels of “toxicair pollution” created by motor vehicles on a daily basis in the capital.   ”Poisonous air harms all of us, but particularly the most vulnerable,” she said, calling for immediate action to create clean air zones throughout the city to tackle this “public health emergency”. People with asthma, aswell as children and the elderly, are typically more susceptible to adversehealth effects of NO2, which includes emphysema and other respiratory issues.Air pollution is estimatedto cause the premature deathof over 1,500 Irish people every year , according to the EuropeanEnvironment Agency.The Times reportedlast week that the number of premature deaths caused by NO2 pollution maybe higher than previously thought.Kevin Carter, the acting chairperson of the Dublin Commuter Coalition, said that, while most people move around the city centre by walking, cycling or on public transport, they “get a minority of the space”. “Politicians need to realise that people want cities that are clean, attractive and liveable.This isn’t possible if the streets are dominated by cars, so something has got to give,” he added.Transport is the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions in Ireland, accounting for 39 per cent of the share in 2017.Emissions in the sector are rising fast, and are projected to grow until at least 2022 , even with relatively high fuel prices and more electric vehicles on the streets as proposed in the Government’s new climate plan.According to the EPA , emissions from the sector are estimated to decrease by only one per cent between 2018 and 2030, when emissions will be almost 12 Mt CO2 eq.If you think streets should be attractive places for people, not cars, and if you think that clean air should be a right, not a privilege, then join us, @DublinCommuters & @IrishPedestrian on Saturday as we attempt to claim Dublin's streets back for people. #StreetsAreForPeople pic.twitter.com/CD1nECFRDt — Dublin Cycling (@dublincycling) July 17, 2019 XR Ireland’s involvementin the campaign is part of the international movement’s week-longOperation Mushroom . Earlier this week, XR activists stageda “slow cycle” along the quays to highlight the capital’s duel airpollution and traffic problems.Robin Cafolla of the XR Dublinbranch said that private transport has been a “contributory factor in theacceleration of climate collapse”, making up a significant chunk of global transportemissions. “We have to take radical action to reduce our dependence on cars and enable more people to walk, cycle and use public transport,” he added.A recentreport on the Irish transport sector has found that the low-carbontransition is still not a policy priority in Ireland, with fragmented views onthe way forward across stakeholder bodies.The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) report preparedDublin City University outlines that a low-carbon transport transition would bebetter facilitated by changes to the broader policy system in Ireland.While a transition to a low-carbon society by mid-century is a keygoal of the State, the DCU-led report indicates that the low-carbon transitionhas yet to be embedded in our transport priorities.The report highlights tensions between public and private actors within the transport system, as well as a rural and urban divide in terms of transport needs.College Green will be car-free tomorrow in the first of three trial runs after plans to turn the area into a civic plaza were rejected by An Bord Pleanála.Over 20 bus routes will be diverted and taxis will be banned from the junction of George’s Street to the Green.About the Author Niall Sargent Niall is the Editor of The Green News.He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London . The post Clean air campaigners take over South William Street appeared first on Green News Ireland .'

‘Europe can comfortably and sustainably supply all the ethanol that it needs’

Climate Agriland.ie

The production of fuel ethanol in Europe is sustainable and uses a small amount of land.It does not cause deforestation and virtually all crops used to produce EU ethanol are grown sustainability in Europe – they are not, therefore, responsible for
'The production of fuel ethanol in Europe is sustainable and uses a small amount of land.It does not cause deforestation and virtually all crops used to produce EU ethanol are grown sustainability in Europe – they are not, therefore, responsible for diverting land away from food production or for deforestation.These were the sentiments expressed by economist Jim Power during the launch of his new report: ‘The Role of Ethanol in Ireland’s Climate Action Programme’ which was commissioned by Ethanol Europe.The company is focused on a new awareness campaign that is concentrating on the utilisation of ethanol production as a climate solution.One of the focus areas of the report was to examine the impact of ethanol on food production and the environment.Power, meanwhile, pointed to Ireland’s international climate obligations – reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% relative to 2005 levels for areas outside of electricity and to achieve a 16% renewable energy share of gross energy consumption by 2020.He also highlighted that under new EU legislation – from 2020 to 2030 – Ireland will be aiming for 32% renewable energy across all sectors – 14% in transport by 2030 and a 40% cut in overall emissions.A source of market stabilisation Power told those gathered at this week’s event that crops were used to produce ethanol and animal feed – and they captured CO2.The use of crops for ethanol provides a product diversification strategy for farmers and helps to protect them from the vagaries of farm price volatility.He continued: “The effect of ethanol production from domestic EU crops is simply to slow down the rate with which Europe’s farmed land area is decreasing. “World-wide commodity crops are experiencing a period of long-term low price and surplus with many EU farmers unable to make a living from tillage farming. “Domestically produced bio-fuels contribute over €6 billion to farm incomes, representing a vital source of market stabilisation.” The palm oil effect Power went on then to discuss palm oil and how its negative effects do not impact upon ethanol.Palm oil from south-east Asia is used to produce bio-diesel but not renewable ethanol.He added: “Consequently, analysis of the negative effects of palm oil should not be confused with the growing of sustainable crops to produce ethanol. “Every tonne of grain used by the EU ethanol industry produces as much high-protein animal food as it does greenhouse gas, reducing fuel. “Ethanol production in the EU and the animal feed by-product helps offset the heavy EU reliance on imported soy protein for animal feed use.” Ethanol production Meanwhile, those gathered for the launch of the report heard Power point to the production of ethanol – a fuel he also describes as “a clean, high performance, renewable fuel that works in most modern cars and in certain trucks”. He highlighted the fact that it was derived from the starch and sugar in grain, beet and cane crops.There is an abundance of starch and sugar at a global level which suggests that ethanol production from crops is not affecting the supply of sugar and starch.He continued: “Furthermore – once the ethanol has been produced – the protein, oils and fibre from the crops are returned to the farm in the form of animal feed for livestock, thereby going back into, and contributing positively to, the food chain.” Separately, the graph below shows the recent trend in cereal farming in Ireland.Power, meanwhile, argues that between 2008 and 2018 there has been a decline of 19% in area farmed for cereal production.This, he adds, reflects negative price trends.Farmland is being taken out of tillage production all over Europe and, yet despite this, the tillage output is actually increasing, reflecting higher productivity.He continued: “Europe can comfortably and sustainably supply all the ethanol it needs both now and into the future – European farmers will benefit from the market demand created by ethanol production and the consumer will not suffer through higher prices.In the past, ethanol has been blamed for food price inflation but there is no evidence to back this up. “Since 2008, EU bio-fuels production increased by 68% but global food prices actually declined by 20%. “The EU Commission shows that EU bio-fuels policy has not led to negative impacts on food prices nor is it expected to.” . The post ‘Europe can comfortably and sustainably supply all the ethanol that it needs’ appeared first on Agriland.ie .'

Broadband plan update: Eir proposal deemed ‘not feasible’

Climate Agriland.ie

The proposal made by Eir as an alternative to the National Broadband Plan has been deemed to be “not feasible” by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
'The proposal made by Eir as an alternative to the National Broadband Plan has been deemed to be “not feasible” by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.The Government was updated today, Thursday, July 17, on progress made towards finalising the €2.97 billion contract for the National Broadband Plan by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton.Eir proposal Following on from Eir’s appearance before the joint Oireachtas committee on June 28, the department – in consultation with its advisors and with ComReg – have concluded that the high-level proposal put forward by the company is not a feasible alternative and has no impact on the decision to appoint a preferred bidder to the plan.Eir was one of the final bidders to the National Broadband Plan and, under these terms, made a draft bid of €2.75billion, excluding VAT, before making the decision to withdraw from the process, according to the department.The evidence presented by Eir both in the committee and in its subsequent letter to the department “does not meet the tender’s objectives and contains material which has already been raised and dismissed during Eir’s participation in the procurement process”, the department added.Government response In a response sent to Eir today, it was outlined that the provision of a state subsidy to any company without competition is not legal under procurement and state aid rules, nor would it meet the key objectives of the National Broadband Plan.Government today noted this assessment.Minister Bruton said: “Work is progressing on finalising the contract for the National Broadband Plan. “It is crucial that we move to sign the contract so that the one million people who today are without access are not left behind.Digital technology is transforming how we live, learn and work.We must make sure the people of rural Ireland have the same opportunities as those in our towns and cities.Following confirmation of state aid approval by the European Commission and completion of contract closing requirements, the preferred bidder will be awarded the contract for the National Broadband Plan (NBP). It is expected that the NBP contract will be signed later this year when all of the legal and financial documentation are finalised with roll out commencing shortly thereafter.NBP The NBP will ensure that every home, farm, school and business in Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband, no matter where they are located, according to the department.As a result of the plan, the 1.1 million people living and working in 540,000 premises across the country – including 100,000 businesses and farms, and over 600 schools – who currently cannot access broadband, will have access to a high speed broadband service.Those 1.1 million people predominantly living in rural areas will have the same opportunities as urban Ireland and will be able to avail of the range of new opportunities that high speed broadband has and will deliver, the department concluded. . The post Broadband plan update: Eir proposal deemed ‘not feasible’ appeared first on Agriland.ie .'

Bord na Mona refuses to release biomass sustainability documents

Climate Green News Ireland


'July 17th, 2019 Bord na Mona has refused to release information on its biomassimports to burn alongside peat as criticism of the sustainability of the practicegrows.Bord na Mona’s Edenderry plant isthe only peat plant to currently co-fire with biomass, doing so for over adecade now.Last year, the plant reached a 41 per cent biomassco-fuelling rate, with 30 per cent of the biomass sourced from abroad.The semi-state company has said that it is developing a number of supply options for “carbon neutral commodity biomass” to generate renewable energy, yet has come under criticism for the lack of information provided on its imports.Earlier this week, An Taisce raised doubts over the sustainability of 37,000 tonnes of woody biomass that Bord na Mona will import from Australia.The biomass will be used for a series of biomass trials at the ESB’s Lough Ree and West Offaly peat power stations . According to An Taisce, all bioenergy used for power generation has a carbon impact and that a full audit of emissions in the cultivation, harvesting, and replanting of biomass crops or forestry should be carried out.EU rules lay down that biomass is carbon-neutral because thecarbon lost through burning is recaptured through replanting and growingreplacement biomass, however, this does not take into account the likes ofemissions from land use change, cultivation and energy lost in burning wood forenergy.In reality, woody biomass can be far less efficient than fossil fuels like coal for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced as more power may be needed to burn off the water content in wood.The European Environment Agency warned back in 2011 that EU rules to encourage bioenergy “may even result in increased carbon emissions – thereby accelerating global warming”. https://www.bordnamona.ie/company/our-businesses/energy/bioenergy/ Datarelease refusal While Bord na Mona haspreviously released documents in relation to its biomass imports , it recentlyrefused to release data from 2017 and 2018 to  TheGreen News  following an Access to Information on theEnvironment (AIE) request.Informationsought included the type and amount of biomass imported, the country of origin,and documentation to show that the biomass was purchased from certifiedsustainable sources.Bordna Mona determined that the information requested is held by a subsidiary ofthe semi-state that does not satisfy the definition of the public authority setout in the AIE Regulations. “Therefore,there is no obligation on [the subsidiary company] to provide information inresponse to requests made under the Regulations,” the decision reads.The samedecision was reached following an internal review requested by  The Green News . Informationon imports from 2010 to 2016 was  previously released to  The Irish Times, with the paper finding that thesemi-state was importing palm kernel shells (PKS) from plantations in some ofthe world’s most biodiverse countries without seeking sustainably records.The palmoil industry faces complaints for the likes of environmental damage, pollutionof water sources, illegal logging and abuse of lowly paid workers.The investigation revealed that for all its PKS imports duringthis period, Bord na Mona had only received sustainability certification forone batch imported from Nigeria.The semi-state told The Irish Times that sustainability information was provided on a“voluntary basis by third parties”. Following the investigation, Bord na Mona agreed to stop importing the product and would review the future supply of biomass “guided by the company’s sustainable business criteria”. Wind turbine, Ballyrogan, Dundonald Photo: Albert Bridge Semi-stateside-track The campaign group Right to Know (R2K) recently made an appeal tothe Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (OCEI) in relationto Bord na Mona’s refusal to release biomass import documents on the groundsthat the records are held by a private subsidiary.R2K Director Gavin Sheridan said: “We believe the definition ofpublic authority in the [AIE] Directive is broad for a reason.It seeks to includea whole range of bodies, including private companies owned by the State,” “We can’t have a situation where public authorities might seek toavoid their environmental obligations via potential loopholes,” he told The Green News.Last year, the transparency-focused group brought a similar appealto the Commissioner in relation to a wind energy project within the Raheenleaghforest in County Wicklow.The appeal came after the wind farm operator Raheenleagh Power DAC(RPDAC) – a company jointly owned by Coillte and ESB – refused an AIE request,arguing that it is not a public authority within the meaning of the AIERegulations.During the OCEI investigation, ESB confirmed that the day to dayoperation of the wind farm is contracted out by RPDAC to ESB Wind DevelopmentLtd.Raheenleagh Power in turn confirmed that it sells electricity to ESBIndependent Energy Ltd that trades as Electric Ireland.In addition, RPDAC filings list an ESB email address as the contact for the company secretary, the ESB legal department is listed as the company solicitor.The company’s registered office is also at the ESB’s headquarters in Dublin, and the refusal letter sent to R2K was signed by a member of numerous ESB entities.The Commissioner found ,however, that Raheenleagh Power was not a public authority for the purposes ofthe AIE Regulations.The decision was appealed to the High Court in March 2019.Last September, R2Kwon a high profile case that led to the release of Cabinet records for thefirst time.The historic release followed an AIE request made by the group fordocuments on Cabinet discussions about emissions levels between 2002 and 2016.The 2016 request was originally refused by the department on thegrounds of Cabinet confidentiality.However, the High Court directed thedepartment to re-examine the request.Eighteen documents , many heavily redacted, were released covering discussions on energy supply, emissions projections, the carbon budget and climate-related legislation dating back to 2003.About the Author Niall Sargent Niall is the Editor of The Green News.He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London . The post Bord na Mona refuses to release biomass sustainability documents appeared first on Green News Ireland .'

EIB approves €4.8 billion for investment in rural, energy and private sectors

Climate Agriland.ie

The European Investment Bank (EIB) today approved €4.8 billion of new financing for investment in rural areas, energy transition, transport and the private sector across Europe.
'The European Investment Bank (EIB) today approved €4.8 billion of new financing for investment in rural areas, energy transition, transport and the private sector across Europe.This includes support for projects to improve communications in rural regions, increase private sector investment to support climate action, and accelerate the transition to clean energy, including support for Europe’s largest solar power facility.The EIB board of directors’ monthly meeting in Luxembourg also discussed ambitious proposals to increase EU Bank support for climate action and environmental sustainability.Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, commented on the move, stating: “Tackling climate change is a priority for Europe and the EU Bank.Today the European Investment Bank agreed to support Europe’s largest solar power plant, alongside clean energy and flood mitigation schemes across Europe. “We also discussed ambitious proposals to expand EIB support for climate and sustainable investment in the coming years,” he said. “Europe must accelerate its efforts to address global warming and remain a global leader in climate action.The EIB is Europe’s climate bank, a leading financier of climate action projects. “We look forward to working hand in hand with the European Commission to achieve ambitious climate goals.” added president Hoyer.Among other areas, the approved finance will go towards investments in: tackling climate change and improving environmental sustainability; addressing challenges facing rural regions; and improving waste management and circular economy innovation.Recognising the significant investment needed to tackle climate change and ensure climate neutral and climate resilient infrastructure, the EIB board discussed detailed proposals to increase the impact of EIB engagement.This includes new investment to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon future and completing the alignment of EU Bank activities with the objectives set in Paris in 2015.These proposals are expected to be finalised in the coming months.On addressing challenges facing rural regions, new long-term investment backed by the EIB includes financing fibre-optic broadband access across lower Austria, access to finance for young farmers in France, supporting agriculture investment in Portugal, improving flood protection in Greece, and upgrading water management for agriculture in the Czech Republic.The EIB will also support private sector agribusiness in Zambia and commercial nature conservation that supports rural communities across southern Africa.Finally, on improving waste management and circular economy innovation, two new projects will improve water management in France.Waste facilities across the country will be modernised to increase recycling, reduce noise, and improve water treatment.A new large-scale waste to energy plant will generate clean energy from refuse from across the greater Paris region.A further project will strengthen investment in circular economy, climate action and clean energy schemes by utility companies across Italy, according to the EIB. . The post EIB approves €4.8 billion for investment in rural, energy and private sectors appeared first on Agriland.ie .'

An Taisce questions sustainability of semi-state biomass co-firing trials

Climate Green News Ireland


'July 16th, 2019 An Taisce has raised concern over the potential environmentalimpact of woody biomass imported from Australia by Bord na Mona for use at co-firingtrails alongside peat at ESB’s two Midlands power stations.According to Bord na Mona, it will receive a shipment of 37,000 tonnes of sustainably sourced biomass from Australia as it assists ESB to conduct a series of biomass trials at its Lough Ree and West Offaly power stations . Bord na Mona’s Edenderry plant is the only peat plant to currently co-fire with biomass, doing so for over a decade now.Last year, the plant reached a 41 per cent biomass co-fuelling rate, with 70 per cent of the biomass sourced in Ireland.The ESB, subject to planning permission, wants to convert both stations to co-fire biomass alongside peat when the peat levy ends in December 2019.The two plants with a combined capacity is 250MW will receive a total of €27.5 million this year under the peat Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy on electricity consumers.Following the expiry of the Peat PSO scheme, the ESB can claim support for co-firing biomass with peat up to 30 per cent of plant capacity.Bord na Mona’s Edenderry plant has availed of support through the PSO-funded Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) since December 2015.The ESB has already applied for permission to operate a peat and biomass plant at its West Offaly facility in Shannonbridge from 1 January 2021, the day after its current permission for the peat-fired plant expires.An oral hearing was held by An Bord Pleanala in Tullamore in April after three national environmental groups raised concern with the plans that they say will prolong peat burning in Ireland.A decision from the Board is due this week.According to Bord na Móna, it is developing a number of supply options for “carbon neutral commodity biomass” to generate renewable energy.The semi-state said that identifying secure and sustainable sources of biomass will assist with the Government’s planned transition to 70 per cent renewables on the electricity grid by 2030. ‘Not carbon neutral’ An Taisce, however, said that biomass is “only notionally classified as ‘carbon neutral’ under current EU accounting rules”. The environmental charity said that all bioenergy used for power generation has a carbon impact and that “effective, good-faith implementation” of the Paris climate agreement will require proper accounting of all emission impacts. “This will require that full audit of emissions in the cultivation, harvesting, and replanting of biomass crops or forestry or other by-products,” added the group. “In addition transport emissions will need to be calculated and included, including international waters shipping which is currently excluded from national-territorial emission accounting systems,” the group said. “The import of biomass from Australia is inappropriate inprinciple.Australia is continuing to mine coal and is facing major climatechange pressures.The export of wood from Australia to avail of an EU renewableenergy accounting rule is unsustainable.” Woody biomass is currently classified as carbon neutral by the EU.The idea is that any carbon lost through felling and burning is recaptured and fixed back in the soil through replanting.In reality, however, woody biomass can be far less efficient than fossil fuels like coal for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced as more power may be needed to burn off the water content in wood.Documents released to  TheGreen News  under Access to Information on the Environment regulationslast year show that the ESB has previously carried out trials of biomassprovided by Bord na Mona.Biomass samples provided include sunflower husk from Eastern Europe and palm kernel shells from Asia, the latter of which Bord na Mona stopped importing in 2017 following an  Irish Times  investigation  into the sustainability of the product coming mainly from Indonesia.Lough Ree shutdown The ESB’s Lough Ree station in Lanesborough in Co Longford is currently shut down for an indefinite period over issues around the temperature of cooling water released into the Shannon.Following the closure last month, Bord na Mona planned to lay-off 70 permanent staff at its Mountdillon facility in Co Roscommon.This decision has since been reversed following discussions with the Bord na Móna Group of Unions last week.An Taisce said that the “unsuitability” of the Lough Reesite for warm water discharge should require the “abandonment of anunsustainable project, both for continued peat burning and phased biomassimport”. “Instead of seeking to prolong peat cutting and unsustainable biomass Bord Na Móna should invest in a major local community supported energy efficiency programme for dwellings in the midlands, training employees in retrofitting and electric heat pump installation,” it said.The ESB has previously told The Green News that the transition from peat to sustainable biomassat its Midlands stations is part of its “commitment to leading Ireland’stransition to a low-carbon future”. Both the West Offaly and Lough Ree stations will use biomass with “proven generation technology to provide reliable and predictable renewable energy” to the grid, the semi-state said.About the Author Niall Sargent Niall is the Editor of The Green News.He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London . The post An Taisce questions sustainability of semi-state biomass co-firing trials appeared first on Green News Ireland .'