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Global Warming and greenhouse gas emissions in Europe

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According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ireland is seeing a constant and stable growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is a measure of economic activity that excludes the profit of multinationals, with a growth of 12% in 2022.

However, as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and with technology and industry not 100% green yet, economic growth also increases greenhouse gas emissions.

The data from the 3rd quarter of 2022 shows Ireland’s greenhouse emissions rose 16.9% compared with the same period of 2019, being the largest growth in Europe for that quarter. Ireland is followed by Estonia with a growth of 8.4%, Malta with 8.3%, Belgium with 6.4%, and Spain with 5.6%.

On one hand, it is great news that Ireland has its economy on the top of the European economic growth. But climate change is a reality and greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced as rapidly and effectively as possible.

According to Our World in Data, the planet emits 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most emitted pollutant today with a total of 80%. In second place is methane (CH4) with 11%, but it is 80 times more potent trapping heat than CO2. These emissions are the result of the four biggest economic sectors in Europe. Energy (including electricity, heat and transport) was responsible for 77% of the GHG emissions in 2019. Agriculture is the second biggest responsible with 10.6%, while industries and waste sum 12.4% together.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) considers greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities ( burning coal, oil and gas, deforestation, farming…) to be responsible for 1.1°C of warming since the beginning of the 20th century.

On 12th December 2015, during the UN Climate Change Conference COP21) in Paris, 196 parties agreed on a Climate Change Treaty to keep the global average temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This agreement pursues efforts to keep the increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

To achieve the 1.5°C goal, greenhouse gas emissions need to be rapidly decreased. The EU aims to have a climate-neutral economy by 2050, with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU also plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and have zero-emission cars by 2035.

Even though citizens do not have real control of the industries, there are still a few changes that can be made to help decrease the human footprint on the planet. Recycling is already a reality in most countries around the planet, but that is not enough.

The textile industry is one of the biggest today polluters today. With a production of 100 billion pieces each year, 3/5 of these pieces will end up in a landfill within a year. Only in Ireland, 225,000 tonnes of textile waste is disposed of every year.

One option to avoid being part of this problem is to purchase second-hand pieces of clothing. Watch here a video showing the opinions of many people who chose this alternative way of buying.

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