The Green Scene: Decrease in pollinator species & EPA Climate change conference

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 June 23th, 2021, Prof Ó Gallachóir discussed the decrease in pollinator species & EPA Climate change conference.


1.      Bees – Alarming decline in pollinator species, warns European Commission

1.      A pollinator (mostly insects, in particular bees) moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower.

2.      European Commission recently reported on progress regarding EU action to protect pollinators and highlighted urgency of action.

3.      Pollinating insects are crucial for the functioning of ecosystems, our food security, for medicines and our wellbeing.

4.      However, one in ten bee and butterfly species in Europe are on the verge of extinction, and one third of them are in decline.

5.      Around 80% of crop and wild-flowering plant species in the EU depend, at least in part, on animal pollination.

6.      Without pollinators, many plant species would decline and eventually disappear.

7.      This would threaten the survival of nature, human wellbeing and the economy.

8.      Around EUR 3.7 billion of the EU’s annual agricultural output is directly dependent on insect pollinators.

9.      There are 99 species of bee in Ireland. One of these, the honey bee which is managed by humans is not in trouble, but we have 98 other wild bees and a third of those are at risk.

10.   A key way to address the pollination deficit would be through ecosystem restoration, supported by agricultural policy.

11.   Citizens also have a part to play in arresting the decline, through citizen science projects.

12.   Monitoring by citizen scientists in Ireland for example has found bumblebees are declining year on year, and there has been a moderate decline in some common butterfly species.

13.   Biodiversity is key here – meadows have been nurtured at Castletown House, in Celbridge, Co Kildare to feed the wild insect population.

14.   The large grassland meadow in front of the house is full of clover, buttercups, and many types of grass. The bees that live in this area depend on the flowers for their survival from March until September before they hibernate.

2.      EPA conference on climate change takes place today (Wednesday) and tomorrow with a focus on Climate Solutions for a Better Tomorrow

1.      Today will focus on achieving climate neutrality, i.e. how do we fulfil our commitments under the Paris Agreement and get to net zero emissions.

a)     The numbers – from international perspective and from recently published new national emissions projections.

b)     The policies to enable the transition – the new Climate Bill and carbon budgets

c)      The sectors – electricity, heat, transport, agriculture and land use

2.      Tomorrow focuses on the ‘people’ piece – People at the heart of the energy transition.

a)     Public opinion and communication – what can we learn from the pandemic?

b)     The wider role of society – people together

3.      The conference is timely as the EPA has just published projection indicating that with all the policies and plans in place, we may get to a 24% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.

4.      However the target is a 51% reduction so we need to do more.

5.      We have plans for ambitious energy efficiency in our homes, electric transport and heating, renewable electricity, and reductions in agricultural emissions.

6.      We can try to go further on each or all of these and add more to the mix – renewable fuels, reduced consumption, increased active modes and remote working, and income diversification in agriculture.

7.      The Climate Bill points to a transformational change across energy and agriculture and the penny is starting to drop on this.

The REthink Energy series featuring Green Scene is supported by ESB and The Institute of International and European Affairs.



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