Irish concern over spiralling greenhouse gases

A study by the Irish government has revealed that emissions of greenhouse gases, including sulphur dioxide rose dramatically during the 1990’s.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) report, Emissions to Air 1990-1998, acknowledges that Ireland has almost no chance of meeting its Kyoto target of limiting greenhouse gas emission growth to 13% on 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The report also points out that emissions of eight major air pollutants dramatically increased during the 1990s, including sulphur dioxide – which has seen a large drop in emissions across other European countries.

The EPA says that the economy of the ‘European Tiger’, as economists have named the republic, with the fastest growth rate in Europe in the 1990’s, is entirely responsible for the increased emissions. Between 1990 and 1998 there was a 35% increase in primary energy demand, a 50% increase in the number of private cars and a 20% increase in the number of commercial vehicles. Spiralling sulphur dioxide emissions are blamed on the need to use oil-fired power stations in 1996 to meet energy demands.

In total, Irish emissions of greenhouse gases rose by nearly 20% in the study period, and are projected to reach levels over 34% above the 1990 level baseline by 2010 without further, radical policy changes.

In order to comply with targets agreed under the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol to the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution on sulphur dioxide emissions, there will need to be a 75% reduction, say the report’s authors. With regards to nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, there will need to be a 50% reduction from 1998 levels, as well as a more modest 10% reduction in ammonia emissions.

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