The ‘Green Scene’ Series on Newstalk is a weekly update on energy and environmental matters with Pat Kenny and MaREI Director Brian Ó Gallachóir.
On November 18, 2020 Prof Ó Gallachóir looked at Eco-tourism – new opportunities post-COVID?
Eco-tourism – new opportunities post-COVID?
- Tourism causes negative environmental impacts such as foul beaches, overcrowding, traffic, aeroplane emissions and other environmental impacts
- Global tourism is estimated to be responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions
- Ecotourism is a rapidly growing movement towards creating a greener and more ethical form of tourism worldwide.
- In addition to the environmental dimensions, ecotourism seeks to support the local economy, culture and communities in the process.
- Fáilte Ireland suggest that the future sustainability of our tourism industry depends on the extent to which we protect the credibility of our clean green image.
- The increasing popularity of greenways, walking holidays and other ecotourism offerings reinforce this.
- The Burren Eco Tourism Network has won a Lonely Planet award in its ‘Best in Travel’ picks for 2021
- The group consists of more than 60 local enterprises committed to sustainable tourism in the Burren limestone landscape and the Cliffs of Moher geopark.
- It is the only Irish tourist project included in the Lonely Planet’s list of more 30 global tourism enterprises.
- The network was listed in the ‘Best in Community’ category.
- Local people who lead trekking tours and home stays in Ethiopia also made the list.
- Lonely Planet says that Burren Eco Tourism Network has “transformed Ireland’s Burren and Cliffs of Moher geopark into a global leader for sustainable tourism“
Biofuels – can we reduce emissions by burning fuels?
- We currently use liquid biofuels (about 260 million litres in 2019) to displace petrol and diesel as part of our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport – we used 4.4 billion litres of fossil based fuels!
- Most of the biofuels (68%) used in Ireland last year came from biodiesel that was produced from used cooking oil.
- Biodiesel is made from used cooking oil through a chemical process called transesterification which separates the oil into glycerin and methyl esters (biodiesel)
- The biodiesel is blended with diesel and when someone fills up their car, van or truck with diesel, it contains about 6% of biodiesel
- Biodieselaccounts for 80% of biofuels used in 2019 in Ireland, bioethanol for 20%.
- Most bioethanol we used comes from corn (maize), most of which is generated in the EU.
- Maize is milled to release its starch, diluted, cooked with enzymes added to produce glucose, which is then decomposed using fermentation into bioethanol and carbon dioxide.
- The Government introduced a biofuel obligation scheme in 2010 to oblige fuel suppliers to ensure a certain proportion of their fuels were liquid biofuels.
- These biofuel feedstocks absorb CO2while growing and release it when combusted in the car engine – resulting in them being considered net-zero CO2 (i.e. 100% lower than petrol or diesel.
- Using lifecycle analysis (taking into account the emissions used to produce the biofuels, transport the biofuels, etc.) the CO2 emissions were 83%lower than petrol and diesel.
- Biofuels usage in 2019 effectively reduced GHG emissions in transport by approx. 666 thousand tonnes of CO2. For reference, total emissions from transport are 12 million tonnes
- The current target is to increase the obligation to increase the blend of biofuels to 10% for petrol and 12% for diesel by 2030. This would result in about 1 million tonnes reduction.
- These targets meet (at these target levels) blending walls, the amount standard engines can readily use without damage.
- Renewable diesel (or hydro-treated vegetable oil, HVO) is generated using a different chemical process and can be used (up to 100%) in diesel engines without modification
- The first commercial production of HVOglobally was in Ireland’s only oil refinery in Cork Harbour.
- Sweden achieved 30% renewable fuels in transportin 2020, with a significant contribution from HVO.
The REthink Energy series featuring Green Scene is supported by ESB and The Institute of International and European Affairs