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Thursday 21 February 2019

Gormley's carbon footprint almost triple State's target

Shane Hickey

KEEPING your carbon footprint in check is a tricky business, even if you are the Minister for the Environment.

John Gormley said yesterday that his carbon count was almost three times government targets -- the main reason being a trip last year to the climate-change conference in Bali.

The Green Party leader's emissions rate of 11 tonnes of carbon for the past year is well above the European average of 8.7 tonnes and a far cry from the four-tonne average which the department is aiming for.

The carbon count is estimated through calculating the amount of fossil fuels -- coal, oil, gas and peat -- which are burnt.

Yesterday, the minister launched a new carbon calculator where people can calculate their total by answering questions on the amount of flights taken and energy used in the home, among other factors.

The main cause of a bloated carbon count is the number of foreign flights taken a year, as Mr Gormley illustrated yesterday.

Bali

"What killed me, ironically, were my flights to Bali for the climate change conference. It really threw me out of kilter," he said.

"I did it for myself and I had just over 11 tonnes, which is just above the European average. Last year, I had three long-haul flights and I probably have another one coming up.

"I have tried to keep my flights to a minimum. The long-haul flights are very serious and then I had about seven short-haul flights as well.

"I don't use the government jet and I really try and keep flights to a minimum. You can be as good as you like at home and green as you like but once you step on the plane your CO2 emissions go through the roof," he said.

Ireland now needs to move to below the European average and "if we can get to four tonnes, we will be okay," said Mr Gormley.

The calculator, available at www.change.ie, was developed as part of the Change Campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lorraine Fitzgerald from the Change Campaign said the aim was to have a 20pc reduction in carbon counts.

"It is looking at things like travel, home heating, electricity and seeing how people in their everyday lives contribute," she said.

"It is about giving people an understanding about where they are making an impact."

And Barry Kane (23) from Shankill, Co Dublin has a carbon count of four. Living in an apartment with two others and travelling by DART to work, he said the main reason for his output was the number of flights he took.

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