The Government is to buy carbon offsets for the first time to cover the carbon dioxide emissions caused by a business trip this week by the newly-appointed Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, to the United States.
The Irish Consulate in New York has also bought subway tickets for Mr Ryan and his officials when they travel around Manhattan, rather than the luxury Lincoln limousines favoured by visiting ministers.
The carbon offsets, costing €437.64, are being purchased from environmental group, myclimate.org, which invest in projects in the developed world that cut C02 emissions.
The offsets bought cover the emissions from business class trips by the Minister and four officials for three flights: Dublin to New York; Washington to Newark and Newark to Dublin, the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources said last night.
The Government intends to put its own system in place to compensate for the environmental damage caused by ministerial flights, which will include planting mature trees in urban areas, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has already said. Mr Ryan's Green Party colleague, Minister for the Environment John Gormley is to bring a memorandum to Cabinet on the issue in coming weeks, it is understood.
On Tuesday, Mr Ryan will visit the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre in the Bronx, followed by a meeting with the Aisling Emigrant Advice Centre in Yonkers and, later, he will meet with "undocumented" Irish in Eileen's Country
Kitchen before meeting with the Young Irish Network, alongside Irish developer and philanthropist, Niall Mellon.
On Wednesday, Mr Ryan will meet the most senior elected Irish-American in New York politics, speaker Christine Quinn, and visit Ground Zero. Later, he will meet staff from New York governor Eliot Spitzer's environment and sustainability team, and Dr Rohit Aggarwala, director of the New York mayor's office for long-term planning and sustainability,
He will later meet Irish renewable energy firm, Airtricity and visit Enterprise Ireland's incubator centre in the same building, before dinner with telecom industry executives.
Rather than flying, Mr Ryan will travel by train to Washington for meetings on Thursday with the European-American Business Council (EABC), and representative Ed Markey, chair of the House of Representatives sub-committee for telecoms and member of the sub-committee for energy and air quality.
He will later hold talks with Dick Beaird, deputy US co-ordinator for multilateral affairs at the State Department; Billy Pizer of Resources for the Future and Brian Thompson of Global Telecom.
On Friday, he will meet with the Irish Ambassador, Michael Collins. Afterwards he will have talks with the Federal Communications Commission, and John Kneuer, assistant secretary for communications of the US Department of Commerce.
© 2007 The Irish Times