Going about our daily business; travelling to work,
looking after our families at home and even just eating
all contribute to the greenhouse gases
that are heating up our atmosphere.
Throughout our boom years we went on a sort of carbon binge
pushing out ever greater levels of pollution
as our consumption levels increased.
We left the CO² limitation agreements we signed behind us in the dust
as we blazed our way to our bright new future.
We left our European and World partners amazed
at our ability to create an economic miracle
and at the same time aghast at our capacity for excess.
If everyone in the world lived like we do,
we'd need the atmosphere and resources of 6 planet Earths.
Clearly the Irish model is not something we can boast about
or can afford to have it replicated around the world.
As we now face a very different future economy
it's time to settle our bill as it were
and deal with our carbon hangover.
The good news is that as we prepare to tighten our belts in a faltering economy
there are real individual savings to be made,
if we can finally wake up to this global problem.
Could it be that a recession could be one of the key ways
of dealing with our carbon addiction?
Today we are going to explore our carbon footprint,
explain what it means and show ways we can reduce it,
best of all we are going to show how we can all save money doing it.
Do you know what your carbon footprint is?
Well I'd say it's your impact on the environment
maybe the amount of energy that you are wasting
maybe in household or cars.
Have you ever tried to calculate your carbon footprint?
No I've never done that I know you can on the internet.
You can calculate exactly how much your carbon footprint is
based on how much electricity you are using and stuff like this.
The average output of greenhouse gases per person in Ireland today
is 17 tonnes per year.
As individuals we can do little about 9 tonnes of this
caused by our social and economic activity and infrastructure.
The other 8 tonnes however are directly within our control
and it's here we can make real savings.
If you want to know what 1 tonne of CO² looks like
imagine a swimming pool
25 metres long, 10 metres wide and 2 metres deep.
In order to stop global warming we need to get down to
2 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year.
How are we going to do that?
Frank, how much greenhouse gases have we put up into the atmosphere
since the Industrial Revolution?
Well right now we're about double what we were before the Industrial Revolution
so we have actually doubled the concentration
of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere
which is quite an achievement, if you think about it.
And how does Ireland perform in all of this?
We're pretty bad.
There are reasons for that;
I mean, we have a large agriculture sector which contributes to it
and also the way we generate our energy
is also quite heavily dependent on the use of fossil fuels.
And it's inefficient.
And it's inefficient!
So if we are going to calculate our own personal carbon footprint
what do we need to know about
our transport in terms of the fuel we consume?
Well typically if you go to one of these calculators
you should have some knowledge of your activities,
you need to know the key activities that you are dealing with
such as perhaps the distance you would travel to work,
or the distance you'd travel on a daily or a weekly basis.
Also if you have your electricity bill,
you can get the number of kilowatt hours that you've used
and by having accurate information about these activities
you can get a more accurate number of your own emissions
associated with your lifestyle.
Do you think we can get a big reduction
in our own personal carbon footprint?
Most people have a significant potential to reduce their emissions
and if you look at the way the European Union is going
they have recently indicated that 2 tonnes per person
would be a long-term goal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
So if we are around 8 in our own personal activities,
that gives you an indication of the type of challenges that we are facing.
It's time for us all to realise that we're on a deadly path right now
to a significant amount of global warming and sea level rise.
Ireland is one and a half times the European average per person
in greenhouse gas emissions.
At our present rate we'll exceed our proposed
greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 by millions of tonnes.
I decided it was a good idea to calculate our carbon footprint for real,
so I paid a visit to our volunteer
who had agreed to act as a guinea pig.
Hi Duncan, welcome.
So before we actually tackle the calculation
the things we are going to find on a carbon calculator
are going to be first of all
the amount of electricity we use in our home,
the amount of heating we use in our home,
the amount of travel we do, whether it's by car or by public transport
and then finally the amount of air travel we do or travelling abroad.
So they're the 4 areas.
If we start with your transport,
Yvonne often drives up and down from Dublin to Cork
and uses her car for short journeys into town
even though there's public transport.
She also likes her foreign holidays so that gets her off to a bad start.
Do you fly much?
I do yeah, I absolutely love my sun holidays I have to admit
so I try and get away a few times a year.
So electricity in the home next and
there's five of you sharing this house isn't there?
That's correct Duncan yeah.
Again 5 people coming and going at different times
is a disaster for her footprint
as the lights and appliances are rarely off
and everyone cooks at different times.
She'll have to look to her housemates for help
if she's going to bring down her CO².
So now let's look at your space heating here and your hot water heating.
There are huge savings to be made
by reducing the heating in a house like this;
turning down the thermostat
and minimising the use of the electric emersion for hot water
would also help to bring down her total CO².
Obviously you've got a big problem here
because oil first of all is very carbon intensive,
your house is badly insulated, it's a large house
and you seem to heat the rooms quite warm.
We do yes and we tend to leave the doors open
because people are always in or out
and there's somebody cooking in the kitchen while someone's watching TV.
Okay Yvonne the moment of truth.
Final figures coming up and I think you shouldn't look here at the moment
Yeah but there's a lot you can do
I think after talking to you,
I can see this being dramatically brought down,
you can get that down to half actually.
Really? I'd appreciate any tips
because that is really bad, I'm actually really shocked.
I left a camera with Yvonne
and asked her to get her housemates
to help her reduce her carbon number.
So these are my friends.
This is Catriona... hi Niamh...
and today we are going to find out what my carbon footprint is like
and see if we can do something about it for the better.
This is the number one problem we have with you
I've never seen it full Abby, why is that?
Because you fill it up with two cups and then you press the button. Okay?
What are you doing Niamh?
I'm putting the fire on.
You don't need to put the fire on, put a cardigan on.
You don't need to be walking backwards and forwards you can just do this.
Turn it off.
We need to turn down the thermostat according to Duncan
I've never done that before.
I think this is the timer
put it on for less time that would probably save energy...
Yes like an hour less.
Yvonne and her housemates are doing well
but she can do a lot more by tackling her transport issue
so I've lined up a surprise for her.
What are you doing?
I'm going out.
To the shop.
Come here, can you get some of those energy saving CFL bulbs?
Hi come in.
This is your present.
Oh my God wow, really?
So now you won't be driving so much in your car.
You can cycle all the way from Cork.
My first bike!
Your first bike.
Thank you so much.
What we've been talking about may seem extraordinary
if you are hearing it for the first time
but as we start to put a price on carbon
we'll all be looking for ways to cut back
because it's going to hit us where it hurts us most -
in our pockets.
Live where you can drive less.
Eat less meat.
Set concrete goals to reduce travel.
Buy organic products.
If you can, walk,
use a bike
or public transport.
Choose your own car for you,
make sure it's the right size for your needs.
Use lights and household appliances which cost less to run
Reduce the environmental cost of heating and hot water.
Think twice before buying another car.
To calculate your own carbon footprint log onto change.ie or greenme.ie
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