Climate Change in EBR

Our Environment > Climate Change in EBR

This section provides an overview of the legislation and training opportunities available to those affected by ecological issues within the East Border Region.

We use a lot of energy in our everyday lives. To heat our homes, power appliances and run our cars. Most of this energy is provided by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. Unfortunately burning fossil fuels causes pollution in the form of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. These are so-called because they remain in the Earth’s atmosphere for a long time trapping the sun’s radiation and causing the Earth to heat up (like a greenhouse). This heating up of the Earth causes climate change. This doesn’t just mean the Earth’s climate is getting warmer, climate change actually means the natural processes of the Earth are being disrupted.

What are the effects?

You’ve probably experienced the effects of climate change without really noticing it. During the last 40 years our winters have grown warmer with fewer frosts and heavier rain. Our summers are growing drier and hotter – sometimes to the point of causing water shortages.

Recent years have seen nine of the ten warmest years since records began. Coastal flooding has also become an issue with melting ice caps causing sea levels to rise 10cm above the 1900 level. Meanwhile severe storms and heavy rain are causing rivers to burst their banks creating flash floods further inland.

Resource Depletion

Climate change, however, isn’t the only problem with our current method of energy production. Over the past 200 years we’ve been burning fossil fuels at such a rate that they’re beginning to run out. Scientists suggest that we’re close to peak oil, a situation where the world’s oil reserves are beginning to decline. Oil accounts for 50% of Ireland’s total energy use. By 2009, 99% of Northern Ireland’s energy supplies relied on imported fossil fuels. Aside from being energy-dependant on these oil producing nations, can we afford to continue using a commodity which is running out while its demand is increasing?

Ecological issues within the East Border Region

Greenhouse gas emission levels are a major issue within the East Border Region. Ireland’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions for 2010 were among the highest in the EU at 17.0 tonnes compared to an average of 10.5 tonnes. Similarly Co. Down in Northern Ireland topped a 2007 poll of the UK’s highest carbon emitters. The average CO2 emissions per household (including transport) were 14.5 tonnes/year. Also in the top ten were Banbridge, Armagh and Newry and Mourne. In the latest 2009 the figures Ireland’s consumption was 10.13 tonnes which is a significant improvement on the 2005 figures.

Reducing CO2 emissions in the East Border Region

A number of remedial initiatives have been completed to reduce CO2 emissions within the East Border Region. These include:

  • Installation of the SeaGen tidal turbine in Strangford Lough – capable of providing power to 1,000 homes using green tidal energy.
  • Installation of Ireland’s first urban wind turbine at Dundalk Institute of Technology – provides half of the Institute’s electricity needs from green wind energy. The Institute is also using willow biomass to heat its new sustainably – designed campus crèche.

Other Projects are currently underway

  • Dundalk 2020 – Sustainable Energy Ireland’s programme designed to increase the sustainability of every aspect of community life.
  • Sustainable development –  Conservation and restoration initiatives in Lurgan , the Mournes and Co. Monaghan

How much CO2 do I produce?

The amount of CO2 we produce over our lifetime is called our Carbon Footprint. Use the Carbon Footprint Calculator to calculate the size of your carbon footprint.

How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

Our Carbon Footprint can be reduced by producing less CO2 in our everyday lives. This can be achieved by:

  • Consuming less energy and being energy efficient
  • Using green energy sources to provide our power
  • Using sustainable design techniques in building

Carbon Offsetting

Another method of reducing our carbon footprint is through carbon offsetting. This means compensating for the CO2we’ve produced by purchasing equivalent ‘credits’ from emission reduction projects (e.g. wind farms).

Whilst not directly redressing the impact of climate change, carbon offsetting is a viable alternative for businesses and individuals who are unable to further reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

Carbon offsetting schemes can vary in their calculations of your carbon footprint (and therefore the cost of offsetting it). Consequently care should be taken to do your own research before committing to a particular scheme.