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Irelandís Global Environmental Impact 'Exposed'       printable version
02 Oct 2014: posted by the editor - Environment, Ireland

By An Taisce
Ireland’s bottom-of-the-class global environmental rating has been revealed in an international report published today by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The Living Planet Report finds that Ireland has the 14th highest ecological footprint in global resource consumption impact on a per capita basis, just behind Tony Abbott’s coal-burning Australia.

Ecological footprint is calculated on the individual consumption levels in each country both within its own territorial area as well resources obtained from other countries. It assesses the use of land, fresh water, timber and energy per person.

Ireland’s import of steel and household goods, fossil fuel, fertiliser, feed for animals and caged fish, sugar products, palm oil, clothes and plastics are linked to significant environmental degradation across the world. Clothing imports are for example resulting in the depletion of fresh water reserves in central Asia.

Goods services and materials, e.g. imported timber and feedstuffs consumed in Ireland, contributes to biodiversity loss in other countries, and this report puts our per capita consumption rates at one of the highest in the globe.

The WWF report also finds that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined by 52% since 1970. The message is simple: the 1992 UN Convention of Biological Diversity has failed.

Yet Bord Bia and Teagasc are actively promoting the expansion of agriculture resulting in increased pressure for land reclamation, fertilizer and imported animal feed, as well as increased pressure to spread slurry on land that cannot take any more.

Meanwhile, Bord Iascaigh Mara is proposing a massive increase in caged salmon farming and other marine exploitation in Ireland without proper prior assessment of the impact of increases in import feedstuffs and biodiversity loss.

Within its own territory, Ireland is failing to address its high per capita levels of greenhouse gases with any effective action, with a proposed climate Bill which has no real or meaningful targets.

The information revealed in the WWF report is more important than international credit ratings. It shows that Ireland is among the world’s most damaging and resource-consuming countries, owing a mounting ecological debt to the rest of the planet.

James Nix. An Taisce Policy Director said: “Ireland’s growth and consumption-fuelled agenda is itself driven by short-term economics. This dominant economic outlook relies on maintaining indifference to the young people alive today, the up and coming generations who will struggle in the future unless our over-consumption is recognised and addressed by all of us.”

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