What is the State of our Environment?

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 December 2, 2020 Prof Ó Gallachóir looked at the State of our Environment?

Listen here.

Farmer, Farm, Ireland, Field

What is the State of our Environment?

  1. ‘Not what it should be’, … ‘outlook not optimistic’ … ‘giving rise to complex and systemic issues’
  2. Environment Protection Agency published Ireland’s latest State of Environment report last week. (This health check is done every four years).
  3. Challenges cut across different environmental topics, such as climate, air, soil, water, biodiversity and waste
  4. We are also witnessing the erosion of ecosystems and biodiversity on an unprecedented scale
  5. Climate – continuing high emissions result in ‘very poor’ assessment, despite progress in some areas (e.g. renewable electricity)
  6. Air quality – overall assessment ‘good’, but not meeting WHO guidelines on occasion (e.g. particulates that have serious health implications).
  7. Water quality – overall assessment ‘poor’- serious decline in pristine rivers – just over 50% surface water in ‘satisfactory’ ecological condition, slow progress in wastewater treatment.
  8. Nature – overall assessment ‘very poor’ – deteriorating trend in overall biodiversity and for protected habitats (85% of EU protected habitats having an unfavourable status)
  9. Waste – meeting current targets but under pressure – recycling rates have levelled off and circular use of material very low
  10. Some positive signs – many new national and community level initiatives (e.g. climate plans, citizens’ assembly, warmer homes scheme, increase in research funding)
  11. Outlook not optimistic unless– urgent action on climate and biodiversity, but also tackling water pollution, circular economy and increased recycling.
  12. Also need to address land use conflicts – space for nature, step back from intensive agriculture, nature based solutions – e.g. for flood prevention and restored bogs.
  13. Overall message – need for vision and implementation, step changes required in environmental protection, and system changes in energy, agriculture, water services, land use and circular economy



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


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