Climate Change

Climate change is one of the major challenges for mankind this century. It is believed that the driving force behind these changing weather events is the rise in C02 levels caused by the burning of fossil fuels, be it oil, coal or gas. Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere but a significant rise has been seen in the past thirty years. It is believed that it has been due mainly to human activity where the burning of fossil fuels is an integral part of the energy generation process. Too much C02 in the atmosphere provokes the Greenhouse Effect, meaning the Earth’s heat is trapped in the atmosphere preventing it from escaping out into space.

Consequently, a rise in the Earth's atmospheric and ocean temperatures happens. An average rise of 2°C in the Earth’s temperature could have a serious effect on how global weather patterns may behave in the future. The outcome of extensive research shows clearly the link between C02 concentration in atmosphere and the Earth's surface temperature. The amount of Carbon and other Green House Gas emissions (GHG), that a person is responsible for, is called a 'Carbon Footprint'. Reducing a person's carbon footprint reduces the effect of Global Warming.

National and International climate change policies
In 2015 one hundred and ninety six countries (including Ireland) signed up to "The Paris Agreement on Climate Change", aimed to limit global temperature rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The European Union adopted the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The fixed target for 2020 and 2030 are 20% and 40% of greenhouse gas emission reduction. Additional agreed targets for 2030 includes:

  • A total of 27% of the energy requirements is to come from renewable energy technologies by 2030.
  • A target of 27% improvements in energy efficiency by 2030.
  • The Irish Government adopted the "National Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015". The act includes a reduction of 80% (compared to 1990 levels) in CO2 emissions projected across electricity generation, building and transport sectors, and a carbon neutral achievement for agriculture and land-use sector. Moreover, the 2015 Act provides the legislative framework for the development and submission to Government for approval of national mitigation plans and national adaptation framework. Finally, the "Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future" sets out how the energy transition will involve accelerated and diversified renewable energy generation and a further increase in energy efficiency.

    National Mitigation Plan 2017
    The first "National Mitigation Plan" represents an initial step to set us on a pathway to achieve the levels of decarbonisation required. This Plan not only contains measures to address the challenge to 2020, but also begins the process of sustainable development for the medium to long term, where the necessary actions will be taken in the next and future decades. It does not represent a complete roadmap, but rather is a work in progress reflecting the reality of the current state of the decarbonisation transition. The plan is considered as a tool to generate more cost-effective mitigation options.

    National Adaptation Framework
    The Government "National Planning Framework", which is in development, will quantify the measures for the implementation of Climate Change Adaptation measures. Waterford City and County within its administrative area are currently and in the future will implement measures highlighted within "The National Planning Framework" to reduce the vulnerability of Waterford to the negative effects of climate change. These measures include flood barriers, flood plains, drainage works, improved water quality and enhancement in the protection of bio-diversity.

    A successful transition to a low-carbon economy requires a bottom-up approach, from the Local Authorities to the Government, to promote awareness and implement projects across Ireland. To date, Waterford City & County Council is currently implementing and planning a range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • WCCC is implementing energy efficiency/renewable energy technology measures to its near 5000 social-housing stock, aimed to reduce energy consumption for heating and electricity. It is a long term strategy to upgrade all the WCCC social-housing to at least a 'C' Building Energy Rating by 2025.
  • WCCC plans to partake in a public lighting national energy efficiency retro fit programme with the replacement of old street lighting fittings with more efficiency LED lighting in 2019. These works will include the retro-fitting of approximately 13,000 light fittings.
  • WCCC has installed a range of renewable energy technologies at Local Authority sites, such as wind turbines at the Civic amenity site in Tramore and Dungarvan, solar PV at the Civic Office of Tramore, air source heat pumps at Dunmore East Depot housing units and Combined Heat and Power plants at the Kingfisher Club and solar water heating in a number of buildings.
  • The burning of methane from landfill gas helps reduce the Greenhouse Gas emissions, at the three landfills in Waterford City, Tramore and Dungarvan. In fact, the methane’s Global Warming Potential is twenty four times higher than the carbon dioxide emitted during combustion of the landfill gas.
  • Through the implementation of schemes to promote sustainable transport such as "Dungarvan Smarter Travel" and "Greenway", WCCC is improving cycle and pedestrian walkways which acts as an alternative to motive transport.
  • The construction of wetlands at Dungarvan and Tramore landfills acts as a carbon sink, where leachate from the landfill and Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere is absorbed by the constructed wetlands.
  • WCCC have increased the rate of waste recycling of glass (19 tonnes), farm film plastic (87 tonnes), electronic equipment (48 tonnes) and fluorescent tubes.
  • Old fridges/freezers are collected at the WCCC Civic amenity sites in Dungarvan and Waterford City. The fridges/freezers are removed from site where CFC and HCFC are extracted by the specialist contractor. The implementation of this measure eliminates the release of harmful greenhouse gases, which also damage the ozone layer in the atmosphere.
  • Local Authority Climate Change Adaptation Measures
    It is widely agreed that climate change will result in higher sea levels, increased levels of water vapour in the atmosphere and a greater risk of flooding. Several measures have been implemented to date, such as:

  • A "Strategic Flood risk Assessment and Management Study" has been developed for the inclusion in Development Plans. This study highlights areas that are prone to flooding and identifies structural and non structural measures and options for managing the flood risk.
  • Persistent flooding in low lying areas of Waterford city caused by rising sea levels, which contributes to high tides and record rainfalls level, resulted in the installation of flood barriers, channel improvement and tidal control structure. All of the low lying areas are now protected from large floods level, and includes the Waterside, Adelphi Quay and Merchant's Quay areas.
  • WCCC have developed a "Biodiversity Plan" which covers the County and helps protect ecosystems, which can act as "carbon sinks", and provides additional food sources for wildlife in a changing climate
  • WCCC implementws measurea to reduce the risk of coastal erosion which is becoming more common due to higher sea levels and more aggressive storms.
  • WCCC will implement a "Local Authority Adaptation Strategy", which is due to be developed in the near future and meet with "National Adaptation Guidelines".
  • What I can do?
    The following are several ways that a person can reduce their “Carbon footprint” and impact on global warming.

  • Improve the energy rating of my home. For further information, see www.waterfordenergy.ie
  • Use the bike, rather than the car. The "Bike to Work Scheme" is a government initiative whereby an employee can pay for a new bicycle and equipment through weekly or monthly deductions from their salary and not pay tax on these items. Cycling every day also improves health.
  • Using public transport, where available, has less climate change impact than using a car. This saves on fuel, as well as reducing CO2 emissions.
  • The purchasing of appliances 'A' rated appliances, which use less energy in operation. Old appliances can be brought to the Civic Amenity Centres for recycling or collected for recycling by vendor.
  • Reducing water usage. Water conservation has now become an important issue because of the costs involved in the provision and treatment of water.
  • Buy a more fuel efficient car, because its emissions are lower. By upgrading to a newer model, you can get the benefit of lower CO2 emissions and better fuel efficiency. The purchasing of an electric vehicle is also so an option, with lower running costs and government grant assistance.
  • The reduction in waste generation has significant environmental benefits.