Irish people ‘live as though we have 3.2 planets at our disposal’

We live in Ireland as though we had more than three planets at our disposal, not just one, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday.

EPA director general Laura Burke said that it was crucial that the environment was placed at the heart of decisions and actions every single day.

“To become sustainable we all need to change the way we act as consumers, in our homes, our businesses and our public bodies,” she told the Environment Ireland Conference in Dublin.

“We are all consumers — we need to eat, we need to work and we need to travel. But our challenge is to do this within the planet’s capacity,” she said.

She referred to recent World Wildlife Federation data showing that living like an average EU citizen required 2.6 planet Earths to sustain us.

“And here in Ireland that statistic is even worse — we live as though we have 3.2 planets at our disposal.”

She said the EPA would play its part by providing even better information and research to help citizens make more informed choices.

Ms Burke also referred to a recent International Monetary Fund report which said environmentally harmful subsidies aggravated climate change and worsened local pollution and congestion.

Ireland, according to the report, spent over €1bn on fossil fuel subsidies, or €231 per head. Ms Burke said it was just one example of subsidies that distorted the market and stifled innovation.

She called on all public bodies to use their influence and their budgets to drive the green economy through green public procurement.

Pointing out that Government departments and agencies spend €8.5bn every year on goods and services, Ms Burke said this was a “powerful market driver” for the green economy.


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