I was asked by The Examiner newspaper for my reaction to the new report from the EPA and SEAI on the fall in 2020 emissions in Ireland as a result of COVID-19. They were reported here:
Chance for Ireland to permanently build on pandemic-related emissions drops - Irish Examiner, 29/1/2021
A drop in CO2 emissions in 2020 is unsurprising given the huge drop in traffic, especially during the first wave of the pandemic, when daily traffic figures dropped by up to 90%. Last May, MaREI researchers projected that emissions from road transport would decrease by around 2 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020, with less impact in other sectors, which has borne out by the data. However, traffic reductions will last only as long as the lockdowns do, after which emissions will rebound. Transport emissions could even increase more if people start to move to the countryside enabled by teleworking and become more car-reliant.
The pandemic has not changed the fundamental drivers of Ireland’s greenhouse-gas emissions problem, which are our heavy reliance on fossil fuels for transport and heating buildings, inefficient homes, over-reliance on private cars, more SUV sales and intensive agriculture.
To meet the Government target of halving greenhouse gases by 2030, we will need to sustained emissions reductions greater than the reduction seen in 2020 each year, which we are now far from being on track to achieving.
The pandemic also has not made a meaningful impact on the most harmful form of air pollution, particulate matter, which arises from people burning solid fuels in their homes in built-up areas.
The huge loss of life, livelihoods and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic is not a sustainable model for climate mitigation.