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Published: Wednesday 31 July, 2013

canada goose winter coat canada goose winter coat Doing Our Bit To Save The Earth

Ireland is set to measure the carbonfootprint not just of its people but ofits cattle! No, the silly season has notarrived . Another new contract forIrish Beef destined for McDonaldswas announced recently. Currently 20% ofBig Macs consumed in Europe are madewith Irish beef and new contracts and newinvestment promise to increase this proportion. Which is very good news for the Irishbeef industry. howmuch its methane emissions amount to annually! All this as part of the drive to makeIrish beef more attractive to environmentallyconscious consumers, conserve energy, andreduce Irelands carbon footprint.

Irish agriculture has escaped much ofthe recession and food and food relatedproducts are booming. Ireland is the fourthlargest net exporter of beef in the worldand half of the cream liqueurs sold in theworld are made here. A concerted drive isunder way to stress the quality and healthynature of food produced in Ireland. Theexport potential, particularly in marketssuch as China, is immense. There are plansto expand beef and milk production, to bedone in a sustainable way, in order to meetthe separate targets set for energy savingand reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Its worth looking at this at a time whenwe have had a few recent reminders that we are a small country trying to survive andmake an impact. The Eurocrisis continues tounfold, but now there is talk of some significant relief on our banking debt, which willbe achieved by clinging to the coattails of amuch bigger country, Spain. However it isachieved it will be welcome, though givenour structural deficit it will not be a case ofwith one bound our hero was free. In sportalso our soccer team, of whom much hadbeen exp canada goose winter coat ected, performed abysmally at theEuropean Championships, clocking up theworst results ever by a qualifier, while ourrugby team expectations ditto suffered acrushing whitewash in New Zealand.

Jokes apart, the largest single componentof our greenhouse gas emissions is agriculture, which accounts for 30% of the total,followed by energy at 22% and transport at19%. However, overall, Ireland continues toperform poorly in terms of its internationalcommitments under the Kyoto agreementand the environment lobby has for yearsbeen beating up on the Government overthis. There have been recent signs that thefigures are moving in the right direction,but this is chie canada goose winter coat fly because of the domesticrecession.

And there is one of the rubs. This willalmost inevitably generate more pollutionand more greenhouse gases. Sustainabledevelopment, the other mantra of most ofthe first world, is a longer term project and,in Irelands case, could well involve highercosts, thus inhibiting growth by overpricing our exports. Its not an easy place tobe, particularly since Irish energy costs arealready among the highest in Europe andthere is much local resistance to proposalsfor sustainable energy projects such as windfarms. There is also the unpalatable truththat if, for example, Ireland was to reducethe size of its dairy herd in order to reduceits carbon footprint, any slack or gap in themarket would be filled rapidly by LatinAmerican and other producers.

Should Ireland be making the effort? Weare, after all a very small player on the worldscene. Ireland is currently No. 66 in theleague table of carbon footprint emissions,with 43,604,000 metric tonnes released in2008, 0.14% of the world total. China led theway with over 7 thousand million tonnes released, 160 times the Irish total and 23.33% ofthe world total. The USA was second, withalmost 5.5 billion tonnes 18%. India andRussia, the next two countries were someway behind, each contributing over 5% ofthe world total. The total emissions from all27 EU states came to 14% of the global total,less than the USA alone.

By 2010 Chinas emissions had increasedby 14% to almost 8.25 billion tonnes, Indiasby 18.7% to pass the two billion mark, theUSA and Russia had remained roughly thesame. The increase in Chinas emissions was greater than Irelands total emissionswould amount to over 20 years. The complicating factor is, of course, the per capitafigure, with Chinese CO2 emissions lessthan 5 tons per capita, Indias less than 2 tons,the USA over 19 tons and Australia over 20.

The whole issue of climatechange has become somethingof a political football. Ive always regarded itas a no brainer. The rapid industrialisationof countries like China and India, as well asthe second echelon of developing nations,are generating man made pollutants on ascale never encountered before. Parkingfor a moment fanciful and unpro canada goose winter coat vable notions that the Earth can take it or that whatis occurring is just part of a natural cycle ofclimate change of indeterminate length andintensity, it is at least prudent to sit downand work out a strategy for dealing with apossible worst case scenario. The Hole in theOzone Layer should have been a warningtap on the shoulder. Its not hard to suggest a reason. Whatever pronouncements their leaders make, populations in the developing world wantessentially what their counterparts in thedeveloped world have a higher standardof living; and who can blame them. Thosecounterparts are loathe to cut back significantly to make space, and have politiciansfinely tuned to respond. The result is morepollution and a succession of internationaltalking shops that get nowhere.

This is not an area where Ireland of itselfcan make a material difference. But it is onewhere we can make a moral point, perhapsbegin setting an example, even become proactive in working for effective internationalaction. I have pointed out previously thefalse premises behind much of our whinging. We are among the worlds fortunate. Wehave no historical baggage. canada goose winter coat