Saturday 8 August 2009

Higher levels of CO2 blamed on Celtic Tiger era car growth

The increase in cars during the boom years contributed to Ireland’s high carbon dioxide levels, according to new figures.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures also indicate that Ireland will struggle to achieve its target reduction in greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Agreement.

Between 1998 and 2007, greenhouse gas emissions here increased by almost 5%, although acid rain precursors - such as sulphur dioxide - fell by 33%.

The CSO figures measure sectors of industry in terms of how much pollution is put out into the air versus the economic impact of the sector on the nation’s finances. While some sectors - such as industry and agriculture, forestry and fishing - showed a fall in greenhouse gas emissions, emissions in the transport sector rose almost every year up to 2007.

It is believed that the growth in the number of newer, more powerful cars during the Celtic Tiger years contributed to the growth in greenhouse gas emissions in that sector.

There have been improvements in other sectors, however, with the statistics showing that electricity production is now greener than ever before.

While electricity demand per household rose by 15% between 1998 and 2007, there was a decline of 20% in greenhouse gases per household and a big drop in acid rain per household. This is attributed to the increase in the use of greener energy supplies - such as wind power and natural gas - and because of the use of new scrubbers at the Moneypoint power station.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector still contributes the most pollutants, mostly in the form of methane from animals such as cows and pigs. However, the figures show that, for the first time, the amount of CO2 being emitted by the sector has been overtaken by carbon cooling in the form of oxygen emitted by forestry.

Ireland has a target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% of its 2005 level by 2020.

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