A body at UCC representing more than 300 researchers has said it will spend €44m on environmental projects in the next three years.
The Environmental Research Institute at UCC said the funds were being spent because of challenges facing Ireland to meet EU and global targets in relation to energy, climate change, biodiversity and sustainability. Over 300 researchers are engaged in institute projects relating to climate change.
The body said its strategy for 2018 to 2022 “aims to provide the necessary research and knowledge base to address our current environmental challenges”.
Institute director Professor Sarah Culloty said: “Our economies are approaching ecological limits, and we are already experiencing some of the constraints of operating outside planetary boundaries in areas such as climate change, biodiversity loss and resource depletion. We need to find new ways to reconcile our high levels of human development with environmental sustainability.”
Ms Culloty said research “holds the key to unlocking these major problems in very informed, practical and comprehensive ways” and that the institute would play a critical role.
“A key element of the strategic plan is working in partnership with local government, policymakers, civic society organisations and the public,” she said.
Vice president for research and innovation at UCC, Professor Anita Maguire, said there were a number of projects ongoing at the institute that had vast potential.
“From wave energy devices, to production of high-value materials and energy from waste, to protecting the quality of the air in our cities and towns, to working with the United Nations to develop training programmes to assess water quality, the Environmental Research Institute is building capacity in Ireland to address the many environmental challenges we currently face,” she said.
The institute was established in 2000. Its researchers are drawn from 17 UCC schools, departments and a number of research centres including Marei Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, the Centre for Research on Atmospheric Chemistry, and the Centre for Law and the Environment.
The institute has substantial research facilities at two dedicated buildings on the Lee Road, Cork and the Beaufort Building, Ringaskiddy, along with environmental research facilities across the UCC campus.
The Beaufort Building houses Ireland’s National Ocean Test Facility, which uses high-spec wave tanks and electrical rigs to support the offshore renewable energy sector and the maritime industry.