Monday 22 January 2018

Gas guzzlers are biggest threat to our C02 status

Photo: PA
Photo: PA
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

EPA attacks yummy mummies driving D4 'tractors'

The return of gas-guzzling vehicles and increased consumption of luxuries like Italian fizzy water pose the biggest threats to eroding the significant gains we've made in reducing greenhouse emissions over the past decade, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Despite an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the past nine years, it's the show-off suburban housewife posing in a powerful SUV on the school run and the status-seeking businessman driving a luxury car who are still needlessly pumping out greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, said EPA programme manager Dr John Derham.

Even though agriculture is responsible for a third of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions and is the single largest contributor to Ireland's overall CO2 emissions, farming is vital to Ireland's economy - and the sector shouldn't be demonised as the whipping boy of carbon emissions, he told the Sunday Independent.

"It's easy to point the finger at agriculture - but we should be pointing the finger at ourselves," he said.

As the economy improves and consumer spending rebounds, Irish society has a collective responsibility to check our egos at the door and think twice about the unnecessary carbon footprints we are leaving behind, simply to satisfy our vanity, he said.

Transportation is the second largest contributor of greenhouse gases in Ireland - responsible for 19.5pc of all C02 emissions - yet this figure could be drastically reduced if people thought twice about what they are driving, or better still, opted for public transport, said Dr Derham.

"We seem to be wedded to these two-litre engines - but they're just a vanity purchase. They have no purpose.

"These big machines consume an unnecessary amount of energy which is directly proportionate to emissions," he said.

"We have these vehicles capable of towing a horse box that are only being used to pick up kids from a school in Donnybrook or Dundrum."

Not surprisingly, carbon emissions from the transportation sector dropped steadily each consecutive year after the crash in 2008.

But they rose by 2.5pc in 2014 as more people returned to work.

Dr Derham fears the figures for this year will be even higher. But the trend can be reversed if people "cop on" and don't repeat the ostentatious excesses of the boom years.

"We have to guard against going back to that," he said.

The use of outdoor patio heaters, is another example of unnecessary lifestyle choices that are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, as is drinking imported water from Italy.

"How pretentious do we need to be? We don't want people to go back to flying to New York for a weekend shopping trip.

Please, give someone a slap in the head. These are massive carbon footprints," he added.

Sunday Independent

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