Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Government Support for FAS courses in Green Technology

Good news on the green economy front. The Government has announced a range of Fás courses aimed at retraining thousands of construction workers in the installation of green technologies in homes and businesses across the country.

The Government, and in particular Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Eamon Ryan, has been keen to promote the national roll-out of ‘clean-tech and green’ energy process.  The courses announced by Enterprise Minister and Tánaiste Mary Coughlan will enable workers to convert and upgrade their skills to allow them to install the technology as well as carrying out compliance and energy rating assessments.

There will be five course types available:

* Gas safety and installation courses.

* Sustainable energy courses for plumbers, electricians, fitters and other qualified construction workers to design, install and commission domestic solar hot water heating, bio-mass and heat-pump systems.

* Building energy rating courses for suitably qualified participants to produce building energy rating assessor (BER) labels and advisory reports for new and existing dwellings.

* Smart/intelligent building systems to provide qualified electricians or suitably qualified applicants with skills to install, configure and test an intelligent building control system using KNX/EIB technology.

* Insulation technologies and techniques for general construction tradesmen in insulation materials, techniques and technologies, and provides plasterers with external wall rendering techniques for existing and new buildings.

Two more courses are planned for later this year looking at micro-electricity generation through wind turbine energy and also at ‘passive’ house building.  

Floods, fires seen testing EU climate response

Flash floods, wildfires and heatwaves brought on by climate change could test Europe's ability to insure against and respond to natural disasters, a new report warns.

Flooding of the Nile Delta and further desertification of north Africa could also unleash a wave of migrants from Europe's southern neighbors, said delegates at the launch of the European Union-backed ADAM report. The European Union last year agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions by roughly a fifth by 2020 and is now preparing for talks in December on a global deal.

The 27-country EU hopes to prevent global temperatures rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, but is also having to prepare for the repercussions of missing the target. "Even if we aim for 2 degrees, the uncertainty in the climate system means significant risks of rises of 3 degrees or above," said the ADAM project's coordinator, Mike Hulme. The report warned that flood risk in many eastern European states has exceeded 1 percent of gross domestic product.

"In some events, national authorities have had severe fiscal problems in financing the recovery process," it said. Even wealthier nations can struggle to cope with the huge cost, the report added, citing 2002 floods in Austria that led to a fiscal crisis that ultimately triggered new elections and a change in the balance of power.

The report warns of a 15 percent risk that Europe's disaster compensation scheme -- the EU Solidarity Fund -- could become overwhelmed with claims above its annual resources of 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion). To counter that danger, the scheme could be altered to become a source of reinsurance or capital for national disaster insurance schemes, it recommended.


"What this report shows is that we had better get prepared by taking the political decisions, such as making sure the solidarity fund can provide help in the dimensions needed," said ADAM project manager Henry Neufeldt.

Around 44 percent of calls on the solidarity fund are for floods and 27 percent for wildfires, he added. The fund has not previously covered drought damage. Neufeldt said climate change would raise the risks of wildfires in the Mediterranean region -- especially in southeastern countries such as Albania and Croatia -- but good forest management could keep risks in check. Other issues highlighted by the report include rising wages and return on capital in cities such as Madrid at the heart of drought-risk zones, and soaring power consumption in southern Europe for air-conditioning.  Speaking at the launch of the report, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chairman of the United Nations climate panel, warned that failure to act could ultimately lead to sea level rises of several meters, displacing millions from low-lying islands and deltas.

"The Nile delta is the closest to Europe, and that's an area where 10 million people -- equal to the population of Belgium -- are living, cultivating and working at less than a meter above sea level," Ypersele said. "The pressure from sea level rise on this population will most likely induce a combination of relocation within the country, and migration out of it," he added.

Source: Reuters

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lecture series Building a Green Economy with former UNEP Director and Ambassador to Arendal, Norway

Mr. Svein Tveitdal, former Director at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Environmental Ambassador to the city of Arendal, Norway, was the guest speaker at a series of lectures organised by Declan Waugh of Partnership For Change (PFC) in association with Cork City Council and West Cork Development Partnership (WCDP).

A large audience attended a midday lecture hosted by PFC and WCDP in the Quality Hotel, Clonakilty on the 18th May last. The lecture was titled "How to build a Green Economy" and was followed by a questions and answers session.

The audience was drawn from a wide sector of West Cork, representing small businesses, food producers, Sustainability Clonakilty, Transition town Kinsale, public representatives from both Town Councils and Cork County Council and members of the general public.

Mayor of Clonakilty Cllr. Michael O'Regan opened the proceeding followed by The Lord Mayor of Cork County Cllr Noel Harrington. Both Town and County Mayors welcomed Minister of State, Trevor Sargent T.D. and Mr. Svein Tveitdal to Clonakilty and noted the remarkable work and initiatives undertaken by the local community in Sustainabilty Clonakilty.

Minister of State, Trevor Sargent T.D., spoke of the importance and urgency of tackling climate change and of our over-reliance on fossil fuels.   He outlined how we must develop a low-carbon economy to ensure our economic security and to protect the environment for future generations.  He spoke of the community leadership shown by Sustainability Clonakilty and Partnership for Change (PFC) and thanked Declan Waugh for organising the series of lectures.

Mr. Ivan McCutcheon of West Cork Development Partnership (WSDP) discussed how climate change and developing a low-carbon economy is a necessity for Ireland  and noted in particular that policy changes will be required to invest in food security and to support the development of horticulture. Ivan said that these were issues of concern to WCDP and congratulated Declan Waugh for his commitment and leadership in raising awareness on climate change and support the development of a low carbon economy with his work with PFC.

The seminar began with a short presentation by Declan Waugh, Environmental Scientist and Chairman of Partnership for Change. Declan began by discussing the extreme weather events of August 2008, detailing the economic cost of the flash floods to the insurance industry and to agriculture. Declan presented recent scientific data on climate change from NASA and explained how climate change will impact on food production, biodiversity and population distribution in the 21st century. Declan said  “we need to think through climate change; rather than about climate change” He discussed the urgency for leadership, policy foresight, political commitment, investment in innovation, communities and energy security to ensure our economic and physical wellbeing for the current and future generations”.

Declan noted that over the past six months following on from the Partnership for Change Climate Change conference organized in Nov last, he had been working hard with colleagues on a very exciting proposal to facilitate the participation of Cork County and City in joining the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Climate Neutral Network (CNN). Mr. Svein Tveitdal was invited to come to Ireland to discuss this initiative and outline how other communities were benefiting from participation.

The CN NET initiative was established by UNEP last year to assist towns, cities, companies and nation states interested in developing a low-carbon economy. A number of governments around the world have now declared their aim to become climate neutral in the next decades through renewables, carbon taxes, energy efficiency, carbon offsetting and more. How this was achieved and undertaken was the focus of Mr. Svein Tveitdal’s presentation.

Mr. Tveitdal noted how Cities from Europe to Asia and North America are coming on board with strategies including clean transport, carbon neutral buildings and awareness raising campaigns.  He included examples of companies that are taking steps to reduce their energy consumption and become more sustainable, from banks to energy producers and construction firms. He provided invaluable insight into how other countries, cities, businesses and corporations are developing green economies and responding to the climate change challenge by embracing a low carbon future and joining the UNEP Climate Neutral Network.

Mr. Tveitdal explained how UNEP’s climate neutral network brings together this growing community. As participants join, it serves as a platform for networking and the sharing of best practice, catalyzing progress towards a low carbon society. As it grows, the network is acquiring ever greater interactivity, with the participation of intergovernmental bodies, community groups, NGOs, climate neutral events and even citizens and households. Mr. Tveitdal said it was heartening to see such a large crowd in attendance and this offered inspiration and hope to the community. “I am an optimist” he said, “I believe that we have the ability to limit the impact of climate change with innovation and technology. However it also requires strong political and business leadership and investment in renewable energy”.

Mr. Sveidtal expressed his hope that as a result of both the morning briefing in Cork City with Cork City Council, attended by the County Manager, leading academics at UCC, CIT and senior executives of small and large companies, and the community event in Clonakilty, progress would be made with Cork County and City joining the UNEP CNN programme.  He said he looked forward to working with us to achieve a low-carbon economy. In conclusion, he observed “that countries that act first will be the political and economic winners; acting with foresight developing low-carbon economies for the benefit of future generations and providing examples of sustainability for others.”

Both lectures were recorded for video by Cork Environmental Forum and will be available shortly on the Partnership For Change website ( for the public to view for free.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Famine Commemoration Skibbereen

The famine commemoration week in Skibbereen was a wonderful occasion, the week was packed full with speakers, theatre, walks and events to commemorate the great famine of 150yrs ago. 

I gave two presentations, one to kids ages 9-14 from two schools in Skibbereen and another to adults on the Saturday. Both as you can imagine were totally different and required completely different communication skills. I was told first hand and second hand from people that it was excellent so I am delighted. 

The talk to the kids involved open interaction with the audience, animated cartoons and slides with questions and answers to involve the kids in the process. 

The presentation on the Saturday was to a full house. Some dignitaries were there, I noticed Lord David Puttnam and Mr. David Stanton of Unicef and I believe the Ambassador to Malaysia. 

I opened the presentation by mentioning that my great grandfather came from Cappabeg and my great grandmother from Lough Hyne; how thankfully they survived the famine for otherwise I wouldn't be here to give the presentation in the first place.

At the official state commemoration today, Sunday, it was great to have people come up to me to say that they thought the presentation was fantastic and wish me well in the local elections.
 It was also encouraging to have people approach me to say they would be definitely giving me their number one vote.

Nice to hear that especially as I wasn't canvassing, unlike other politicians present on the day, who used the occasion to canvas for votes which in my view was totally inappropriate at a solemn state occasion.

Thats all for now. Big day tomorrow, former Director of UNEP coming to Cork to give two presentations in Cork City and Clonakilty. Early start.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Human waste used to create green fuel

A Canadian company is creating an alternative green fuel from a new source of energy that was under our noses all along - human sewage. Scientists at biofuel group Dynamotive say the oil produced from human waste can be used instead of fossil fuels to generate heat and power in diesel engines and boilers. They have successfully carried out the transformation on a pilot scale and are looking at ways to scale up the process to commercial quantities.

Andrew Kingston, president and chief executive officer of Dynamotive, said: "There are no process issues at this point to stop us using human sewage sludge. If we can supply the oil then people will use it." In February 2005 the company opened a commercial-scale plant in Ontario that produces 22,000 tonnes of bio-oil each year from waste wood chips and sells it to local industries.

Mr Kingston said more than 100 types of biological waste could be used as feedstock. The company has already commercialised oil production using wood separated from construction waste and coffee bean shells. "We're now looking at dirtier wastes like chicken litter, cow manure and household garbage," he said. The wastes are flash-heated at 400-500C in the absence of oxygen, a technique called pyrolysis, and the resulting carbon-heavy gases condensed into a dark

brown, dense oil. Other hot gases are recycled to help heat the process, which makes it about 80% efficient.

Such biofuels are considered environmentally benign because the carbon produced when the fuel is burnt was absorbed from the atmosphere by the plants or trees used to make it. The fuels are usually produced through the fermentation

of crops or by squeezing oil from seeds.

Source: David Adam The Guardian

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Turning waste into new Irish jobs

Minister for Environment launches new Market Development Plan to create jobs from waste currently exported
Mr John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government today launched an innovative €13 million Market Development Programme to develop new markets and help create new Irish jobs by transforming waste into new sustainable products. Targeting entrepreneurs, third level institutions, manufacturers and waste organisations, over the next five years, the Market Development Programme will identify and help develop markets for a variety of waste streams including plastics, paper, metals, organics, glass and wood.   Entrepreneurs interested in creating new businesses  from waste can get further information at <> .

“Waste that we export often reappears back in Ireland, rejuvenated as valuable commodities that we all buy, like juice or milk cartons, fleece tops or the latest backpack schoolbag.  We need to develop markets for these materials and add value here at home and that’s what the Market Development Programme is all about - it will be a catalyst for innovation”, said Minister John Gormley.   “It will establish partnerships and create linkages between those who produce goods and those who manage waste. It has great potential to generate new green jobs, it will add value to the materials in Ireland and create more revenue for our economy.”

Ireland exports 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable waste a year.  That’s close to 76% of total recyclable waste generated here. It’s waste that could be reprocessed here at home.  The Market Development Programme will shortly publish a Tender seeking people to conduct demonstration trials using compost in agriculture.

This will be of interest to the farming sector and compost producers.  A second tender to quantify the amount of plastic waste in the country will determine for the first time, the volumes, locations, types and current outlets for a variety of plastics generated in Ireland.  The results will be of particular interest to entrepreneurs wishing to add value to waste plastics.  Further tenders will follow. The Market Development Programme will work with academic colleges and institutions to help ensure that their Research and Development projects address topics of interest to entrepreneurs.  It will also work with scientific bodies and representative bodies like IBEC to ensure the needs of industry are given priority.

The Market Development Programme will develop a database of all recycled products in Ireland so that for the first time, there will be a comprehensive listing of all the products made from recycled materials in Ireland available for people to refer to when choosing to buy new products.  A comprehensive database of reprocessors - people who reprocess waste materials adding value to them - will also be published in the coming weeks at <> and will be of great value to people who are collecting waste materials and looking for outlets to sell them to as
well as people who are seeking to buy reprocessed waste materials.    

The Programme will also develop green procurement programmes to encourage businesses and the public sector to consider buying products derived from recycled materials.  The Market Development Programme is focusing particular attention on plastic, paper and organic waste.  This is all waste we are required to divert from landfill and this diversion offers opportunities for new businesses.  

“With the recent fall in demand for raw waste internationally and rising unemployment at home, now is the right time to find new ways to re-process and add value to our waste, here at home, reducing our dependency on foreign markets,” says Margaret Daly, environmental consultant and chairperson of the Market Development Group Brian Buckley, Director of Greyhound Recycling and Recovery views recyclables as a valuable commodity and not as a waste. “We have identified reprocessing of recyclables and adding value to these recoverable resources in Ireland as a key business opportunity”, he says. “The recyclables market collapse in recent months has also demonstrated the need for high quality recyclables in order to maintain export markets and for greater indigenous reprocessing capacity to obviate any market declines. Developing markets demand significant efforts for a company and additional support as offered through the Market Development Programme will be a welcome initiative to all business sectors interested in operating in the area of resource

Fred McDarby, Manager of Environment and Green Technologies, Enterprise Ireland says the Market Development Programme is a timely initiative, given its emphasis on exploring new market opportunities. “Critical to its success will be its focus on quality and standards”, he says: “This drive for excellence, combined with the ongoing demonstration of the potential of recyclable materials, should create confidence in this market and open doors for Irish businesses, in particular for the SME sector. Enterprise Ireland looks forward to supporting this Programme as an initiative which should create employment opportunities and help in the drive towards creating a more resource led economy.

Dr Clement Higginbotham, Director, Materials Research Institute, Athlone Institute of Technology says: “this much welcomed initiative will provide the opportunity to forge links between third level institutions and the business world.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bioelectricity promises more ‘miles per acre’ than ethanol

Last week, the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged that corn-based ethanol “does indeed have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions compared to regular gasoline,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, ag program manager for the Nebraska Corn Board.
According to Brunkhorst, in the EPA’s proposed rulemaking for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), it noted that corn-based ethanol provides a “61 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to gasoline.”

As required by EISA, Brunkhorst said EPA also included a calculation for “indirect land use” in its life-cycle calculations of corn-based ethanol.
He said including EPA’s estimate for indirect land use changes, corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 16 percent compared to gasoline, but that further reductions were possible.
According to Brunkhorst, EISA requires that future ethanol production must meet a reduction of 20 percent – existing operations are grandfathered in.
He said EPA also said it was going to ask that indirect land use change calculations be peer-reviewed and that such calculations, as they currently exist, will be open to scrutiny.
“This proposal is important on many levels because it helps clarify the environmental benefits of corn ethanol, while at the same time noting that there is room for changes,” Brunkhorst said.
He said the Nebraska Corn Board is “especially encouraged by the idea that EPA acknowledged that land use changes are in question and should be examined more closely.”
“Using questionable science, computer models or best guesses is not good policy,” said Brunkhorst.

A new study from Stanford University in California, found that while biofuels, such as ethanol, offer an alternative to petroleum for powering our cars, “growing energy crops to produce them can compete with food crops for farmland, and clearing forests to expand farmland will aggravate the climate change problem.”
In trying to maximize the “miles per acre” from biomass, researchers said the best bet is to convert the biomass to electricity, rather than ethanol.

According to their calculation, compared to ethanol used for internal combustion engines, bioelectricity used for battery-powered vehicles would deliver an average of 80 percent more miles of transportation per acre of crops, while also providing double the greenhouse gas offsets to mitigate climate change.
“It’s a relatively obvious question once you ask it, but nobody had really asked it before,” said study co-author Chris Field, director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution.
Field said the kinds of motivations that have driven people to think about developing ethanol as a vehicle fuel have been somewhat different from those that have been motivating people to think about battery electric vehicles.
“But the overlap is in the area of maximizing efficiency and minimizing adverse impacts on climate,” he said.

Researchers performed a life-cycle analysis of both bioelectricity and ethanol technologies, taking into account not only the energy produced by each technology, but also the energy consumed in producing the vehicles and fuels.
For the analysis, they used publicly available data on vehicle efficiencies from the US Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations.
And what the researchers found was that bioelectricity was the clear winner in the transportation-miles-per-acre comparison, “regardless of whether the energy was produced from corn or from switchgrass, a cellulose-based energy crop.”
For example, the researchers found that a small SUV powered by bioelectricity could travel nearly 14,000 highway miles on the net energy produced from an acre of switchgrass, while a comparable internal combustion vehicle could only travel about 9,000 miles on the highway. (Average mileage for both city and highway driving would be 15,000 miles for a biolelectric SUV and 8,000 miles for an internal combustion vehicle.)
“The internal combustion engine just isn’t very efficient, especially when compared to electric vehicles,” said Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced, who helped to author the study. “Even the best ethanol-producing technologies with hybrid vehicles aren’t enough to overcome this.”

The researchers found that bioelectricity and ethanol also differed in their potential impact on climate change.
“Some approaches to bioenergy can make climate change worse, but other limited approaches can help fight climate change,” says Campbell. “For these beneficial approaches, we could do more to fight climate change by making electricity than making ethanol.”
According to the researchers, the energy from an acre of switchgrass used to power an electric vehicle would prevent or offset the release of up to 10 tons of CO2 per acre, relative to a similar-sized gasoline-powered car.
Across vehicle types and different crops, this offset averages more than 100 percent larger for the bioelectricity than for the ethanol pathway, according to the study.

Bioelectricity also offers more possibilities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through measures such as carbon capture and sequestration, which could be implemented at biomass power stations but not individual internal combustion vehicles, the study found.
While the results of the study clearly favor bioelectricity over ethanol, the researchers caution that the issues facing society in choosing an energy strategy are complex.
“We found that converting biomass to electricity rather than ethanol makes the most sense for two policy-relevant issues: transportation and climate,” said Dave Lobell of Stanford University, who also co-authored the study. “But we also need to compare these options for other issues like water consumption, air pollution, and economic costs.”
Campbell said there is a big strategic decision “our country and others are making: whether to encourage development of vehicles that run on ethanol or electricity,.
“Studies like ours could be used to ensure that the alternative energy pathways we chose will provide the most transportation energy and the least climate change impacts,” he said.

Source: By Robert Pore

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Financial and Environmental opportunities in Building a Green Economy

For the past year the current financial crisis has been the centre of all media attention. While this is important and relevant to everyone today we may sometimes forget that that climate change is the defining issue of our era.

Not a day passes without a newspaper, a broadcast or a politician making references to the threats posed by economic instability, job losses, housing crisis and issues of competitiveness. All of these are hugely important but none pose any threat to our survival. 

What many people are now realizing is that the environment is our economy and by investing in green technology, and renewable energy we provide a clean limitless source of renewable energy that can drive our economy forward and attract investment into this country.

Companies ultimately decide to invest in countries for a number of reasons, access to markets, tax base, educated work force, but also for reasons of competitiveness which include availability of energy and natural resources.

Only by capitalizing on our vast renewable energy resources and availability of natural resources such as water and agricultural land can we ensure that certain industries remain in this country. Irelands future lies in the sustainable utilization of these resources and in marketing Ireland as a green clean country for the promotion of tourism. Our natural resources, renewable energy and food production will be the three defining pillars of our economy in the years to come. But first we must adapt to develop a low carbon economy to ensure not only our survival but also our short term economic future.

While the economic financial collapse has been the focus of media attention we must not forget that Climate change is upon us, and the problem is here to stay. But it is still in our power – as individuals, businesses, cities and governments – to influence just how serious the problem will become. We have the choice how to act, but the change we need to make is in ourselves. We can make a difference by supporting the transition to a low carbon world. This concept – developing a low carbon economy– is the subject of a lecture to be held in Clonakilty on the 18th May.

Over the past six months, following on from the Partnership for Change Climate Change conference I organized in Nov last, I have been working hard with colleagues on a very exciting proposal.   Together we are seeking to facilitate the participation of Cork County and City in joining the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Climate Neutral Network (CN Net).

The CN NET initiative was established by UNEP last year to assist those interested in achieving big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to achieve their goals. A number of governments around the world have now declared their aim to become climate neutral in the next decades through renewables, carbon taxes, energy efficiency, carbon offsetting and more.

Cities from Europe to Asia and North America are also coming on board with strategies including clean transport, carbon neutral buildings and awareness raising campaigns. A growing number of companies are taking steps to reduce their energy consumption and become more sustainable. From banks to energy producers and cosmetics firms, companies from across sectors are taking bold steps towards climate neutrality. Strategies range from the local to the global, with greener offices, climate neutral products and far-reaching commitments to reduce emissions across the supply chain.

UNEP’s climate neutral network brings together this growing group. As participants join, it will serve as a platform for networking and the sharing of best practice, catalyzing progress towards a low carbon society. As it grows, the network is acquiring ever greater interactivity, with the participation of intergovernmental bodies, community groups, NGOs, climate neutral events and even citizens and households.

I am delighted that we have facilitated one of the worlds experts on “building a green economy” coming to Cork where he will make a presentation to two very important influential groups.  Our guest speaker is Mr. Svein Tveitdal a former Director at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Environmental Ambassador to the city of Arendal, Norway. Apart from Mr. Tveitdal’s vast experience with the United Nations, he brings with him a wealth of business knowledge serving as Chairman of the Board of the following organisations: The Asplan Foundation, Purity (Green IT provider), Frameworks (Internet publishing), South Norway European Office in addition to being a Board member of Norfund (Government-owned investment fund risk capital in developing countries), Agder University, Zero Emission Resource Organisation and Earthprint Ltd.

In the morning Mr. Tveitdal will address a select group of influential leaders including the County Manager, City Manager, President of UCC, CIT, leading academics and senior executives of small and large companies, together with the public sector.

At noon in the Quality Hotel, Clonakilty he will address the wider community of West Cork. His presentation will provide invaluable insight into how other countries, cities, businesses and corporations are developing green economies and responding to the climate change challenge by embracing a low carbon future and joining the UNEP Climate Neutral Network.

The presentation and talk will be opened by Minister of State Trevor Sargent T.D. The midday event is free but places are limited, to ensure attendance one must pre-register. To register e mail Declan Waugh at: or Ivan McCutcheon, West Cork Development Partnership at:

Eu Funding to Support Green Business Development

Green Party MEP candidate for Munster Senator Dan Boyle has encouraged Irish businesses to apply for an EU fund worth €30 million, aimed at helping small businesses involved in green technologies and services to bring their products to the market.
“This is exactly how the European Union is helping us out of our economic crisis,” said Declan Waugh Green Party Candidate for Cork County Council “and this is exactly what our MEPs for Munster should be working towards.”

The €30 million fund is part of the Eco-innovation initiative, to support organisations that have developed an environmental product, service, management practice or process which has a proven track record, yet is not fully marketed due to residual risks.
“The Eco-innovation initiative is intended to overcome those barriers to further market penetration and turn these products and processes into Europe's future eco-innovation successes. Applications from SMEs are particularly encouraged.

"Munster badly needs this sort of funding, and it badly needs these kind of jobs. The funding is there in Europe, and the innovative small businesses are here in Cork. The missing piece is the political leadership to bring the two together. I will make it my business as a Munster MEP to provide this leadership,” said Senator Dan Boyle

Small and medium enterprises who wish to make an application for Eco-innovation funds should go to the relevant part of the European Commission website: or contact Senator Dan Boyles office directly for further information.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Local authorities invited to submit proposals for renewable energy centres

Oireachtas Sub Committee on Job Creation through use of Renewable Energy Resources

This is why we need representatives that have comprehensive knowledge and experience in not only making technical submissions but also a vision for a green economy. Our economic future lies in a smart and green economy, dependent on innovation,research and development. As some of you may now know I was requested to stand in the local election in the Skibbereen Area because people believed i had these skills and have a tract record to prove it. 

You decide who you want to best represent our community, choose wisely!

The Oireachtas Sub Committee on Job Creation through use of Renewable Energy Resources has invited proposals from County Councils on the feasibility of locating renewable energy projects in their local authority areas.

The renewable energy projects will follow the example of the town of Gussing in Austria where a renewable energy project has transformed the local economy.

In Gussing, 50 new companies have been established since the 1990s, employing more than 1,000 people through the establishment and continual expansion of an alternative system of producing energy from sustainable resources, grown, garnered and utilised in the local area, and using this energy to supply electricity and heat to business, industry and private homes in the same area.

Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Job Creation through use of Renewable Energy Resources, Willie Penrose, TD, said: “We should observe what is happening in other countries and seek to use the knowledge gained to create new jobs and employment opportunities in Ireland which will be good for the economy and the environment.”

“Renewable energy projects have the potential to create thousands of jobs throughout the country. Renewable energy projects provide opportunities at every stage of development from initial research through to manufacturing, construction, operation and maintenance. In the US, Barack Obama plans to invest $150 billion over 10 years in a ‘clean energy’ economy that will help the private sector create five million new green jobs. There is no reason why a similar approach cannot be adopted here.”

Following a fact-finding trip to view the Gussing Energy, the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment established the Sub-Committee on Job Creation through use of Renewable Energy Resources in October 2008. It aims to identify locations in Ireland for establishing projects similar to the Gussing project.

At least one of these locations will be in Connacht/Donegal, one in Leinster/Cavan/Monaghan and one in Munster. It aims to identify which of these locations would be suitable for the establishment there of a Solarteur School. Solarteur Schools provide training in renewable energy technologies to students and skilled workers in the building, engineering and other sectors.

The Sub-Committee is now inviting proposals from County Councils on the feasibility of locating a project of this nature, including the establishment of a Solarteur School, in their local authority area. While the Sub-Committee is not offering to fund the projects, it will use its office to convince the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to promote the development of these job-creation projects at the most suitable locations.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bringing science, business and environmental stewardship to local Government

A prominent environmental scientist, businessman and community activist (thats me, might as well blow my own horn) has announced he is to run for the Green Party in the Skibbereen Electoral Area. Declan Waugh was asked by the Green Party to stand for election and has decided to accept the challenge offering his business, technical and project management skills to the people of West Cork.

Declan Waugh, who received the Cork Environmental Forum Award for Individual Action in 2009, previously worked as Director of Environment and Planning for the SWS Group.  He currently runs his own environmental consultancy in addition to having established Partnership for Change, an education and awareness initiative to build leadership and awareness on climate change and assist in the transition to a low carbon economy.

According to Declan “If we continue with business as usual we will not overcome the economic and environmental challenges this country currently faces. We must start re-examining how we manage our society, supporting the development of clean energy and the sustainable use of resources to create a low carbon economy while protecting our environment. Our environment is our economy and the health and wellbeing of our community depends on clean air, water and soil.”

Declan believes that science matters to local government, that we need elected representatives who understand environmental legislation and planning laws, who know how to approach development plans at a local and regional level and who have a technical understanding of waste management, water, noise and air pollution. He maintains that we need representatives who understand about impact assessment, sustainable development, climate change, transportation policy, renewable energy and how to build a green economy, which will be critical for the economic and energy security of this country.  This is Declan’s own background and he has worked in these areas for almost twenty years both as an environmental scientist and businessman.  In this capacity, Declan says “I know only too well that unless we address these problems now, our economy and society will pay a terrible price that I am not willing to accept.”

In reference to the current financial crisis Declan said “All local Authorities including Cork County Council will face enormous challenges providing the services we depend on. I believe that West Cork now needs a new generation of public representatives that show the capacity for change offering new skills, ideas and experience to help overcome these difficulties.” According to Declan we can overcome these challenges but it requires “new ideas and we have to be more efficient at how we save public money while continuing to provide essential public services. We have to be innovative and creative to bring about the changes that are needed; we need people who have a long-term vision and a track record in business and innovation.

Declan said “I was asked to stand in the local elections as it was considered that I have these skills and abilities. I want to offer the people of West Cork an alternative; someone with no political baggage or unrelated to past incumbents, someone who stands on their our abilities, skills and experience; someone who has vision, determination and a sense of what the future can offer if we act now to face the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

According to Declan, we are living in a time of transformation of historic proportions; faced with both the collapse of our financial system as well as an imminent threat to our environment from climate change and global warming. We must now tackle these issues and develop a low-carbon economy but we must start the process in local communities through participation of local government.”

The Environment is the Economy

As an environmental scientist I am trained amongst other things to examine and make predictions of the potential impacts of proposed development on our environment including air quality, noise, water, waste management, economic, transport, cultural, landscape and heritage. In doing so I examine the ecological, physical and scientific aspects of a development. After almost twenty years as an environmental consultant working in diverse industries as well as research and development I believe that our political system or wider community has yet to realise what you may already know. That is that our entire economic well-being and future security is based on one simple entity, our environment.

We all in some way are aware of this, yet the manner of development which has occurred in this country and globally has failed to recognise the importance of our environment, the services it offers us and the economic benefit we derive from it. The environment provides critical ecological functions that enable society to function. According to Nature an international journal of science, the value of these services to society have been estimated to be worth on average €24 trillion per year, twice the global gross national product of the entire world. Apart from providing us with clean air, water and soil our environment provides us with opportunities to support our economy through the marketing of tourism and the potential to develop a green economy. The industrial revolution passed Ireland by due largely to our colonial past and direct rule from England where Ireland was largely seen as an agricultural producer. One of the positive impacts of this is that Ireland has the lowest percentage of contaminated land of any nation in Europe. In the UK alone there are an estimated 100,000 contaminated sites compared to a few hundred here in Ireland, in comparison according to the Worldwatch Institute over ten million hectares of agricultural land in China is contaminated from industrial and agricultural pollution.

One of the reasons we have a relatively clean environment is due to population density. In the week that commemorates the Great Famine in Ireland it is remarkable to note that in the nineteenth century pre-famine Ireland had a population similar to that of Spain; approaching 9 million people. Today the population of Spain is 47 million. As a consequence of the famine and mass emigration our population declined dramatically to less than 5million. During the famine years approximately 200,000 people left of shores each year seeking a new life in the USA, Canada and Australia. Remarkable almost every developed nation of the world shows that population size doubled generally every 200-300 yrs. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century this timescale reduced to 100yrs and today stands at less than 50yrs. While upwards of 70 million people around the world claim Irish decent, today Ireland still has a population less than that of 1830’s. Imagine if you can how Ireland would look today if we had 70 million people living on this island? How would we have managed the development, where would we as an island nation get the resources to feed, shelter and provide essential services for this enormous number of people. Fortunately however we have the least densely populated country in Europe and one of the cleanest most unspoilt and least polluted environments, but it came at a terrible cost, through famine and mass migration.

So what advantage does this give us compared to other countries? Low population growth means less impact on the environment through the provision of infrastructure and services. The United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organisation have highlighted the enormous challenges that face people living in less fortunate countries. Today approximately 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water, by 2025 it is predicted that this figure will rise to over 3 billion people. Food security is now a major national security treat to many countries.  As the world’s population continues to increase and natural resources continue to diminish feeding humanity and providing essential drinking water will prove an enormous challenge. More worryingly the impacts of climate change and global warming could result in an environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe of unknown proportions that is unless we act now to change the way we live and protect the environment that we all live in.

When I examine the current economic crises this country faces I believe that it is very the quality of our environment that offers us the opportunities to live a more sustainable way of life while providing, energy, jobs and security for all our people. Our landscape heritage, coastline, rivers and lakes, mountains and land provide for us a unique opportunity to invest in our country and generate wealth and a sustainable economy beyond what most may dream of.

We must understand that our economy entirely depends on our environment, clean water for society, industry, fishing and tourism: our geographic location on the edge of Europe provides us with the greatest opportunity of all to invest in clean renewable energy, providing clean, cheap and renewable energy to drive our economy, operate our businesses and run our homes. Our largely unpolluted agricultural land proves us with a unique marketing opportunity to build an organic food and agricultural industry that offers enormous potential in addition to generating biomass from forestry and energy crops.

Our unspoilt landscapes provide areas for recreation and the development of sustainable tourism products that could help secure the future of rural Ireland providing much needed jobs and sustaining communities. From the Baltimore Fiddle Festival to the Rose of Tralee we offer people what is needed now more than ever, community spirit and a passion for life. Our generous spirit, character, love of music, festivals, folklore and people provide yet another unique opportunity to Ireland, only by supporting it correctly showing vision and innovation can we will continue to have a world class product.

Our future is in our own hands, we must believe in ourselves, show determination and intelligence for change and we will overcome the challenges we now face. But it requires new ideas and new vision, we must begin by re-examining how we plan for development and provide essential services, we must be ambitious and innovative. Above all else we must protect our environment and heritage for without these we have nothing to offer.