Overview of State of the Environment 2012 Report & Main Environmental Challenges
Ireland’s Environment 2012: The Main Challenges State of the Environment in Ireland Conference, 27 June 2012 Dr Mícheál Lehane, Programme Manager, OEA
Purpose of SoE Reports Provide a snapshot of the environment Track trends and changes in the environment Evaluate progress in meeting environmental priorities Assess if national policies are implemented and working Identifies main environmental priorities for the future Uses knowledge as a catalyst for action
Assessment Framework (DPSIR) An integrated assessment of the environment as a whole Evidence based Socio-economic context and developments Pressures on environment Quality of environment Societal and other responses
Policy Context - International EU 6th Environmental Action Programme 2002-2012 4 Priority Areas Climate change Nature & Biodiversity Environment and Health Natural Resources and Waste Review in 2011 Acquis largely in place (except for soil) Issues with implementation and coherence across countries EEA SoE Assessment 2010: Environmental policy is effective – but needs to be more flexible and adaptable to tackle more complex issues in a global context
Policy Context - International 2020 Roadmap for Resource Efficient Europe (2011) Transforming economy onto resource efficient path (Green Economy); Consumption & production; innovation Proposed “Blueprint for Water” Purpose to ensure availability of good-quality water for sustainable and equitable water use Looking at how to better integrate water across other policy areas Preparations ongoing for 7EAP Focus on Resource Efficiency and Implementation
National Policy Context - Some Recent Developments Climate change – review of National climate policy commenced in 2011 - looking at future policy options and approaches to transition to low carbon economy Air quality – CAFE Directive in Place since 2011 Waste - Revised EU Directive transposed in 2011; Consultation on new National Waste Strategy Water –New bathing water Directive in place 2011; decision to establish Irish Water; WFD – work on governance & structures Biodiversity - National Biodiversity Plan 2011-2016 Framework for Sustainable Development – June 2012 Overarching framework to integrate principles of SD across policy areas
Socio-Economic Context - A Changing Ireland Recent Trends Economic growth followed by recession Demographic changes Lifestyle changes & consumption patterns
Population Change 2000-2010 Ireland – population reached 4.5 million in 2011. Relatively sparsely populated at 60 persons/Km2 – EU average is 116. Growth rate 5 times EU average from 2000-2010 Increasingly urbanised
House Completions 1991-2011 2010 DECLG survey – 2,800 „Ghost Estates‟ 23,000 completed but unoccupied houses; 20,000 not finished.
Private Cars 2000-2010 Big increase in numbers of new cars to 2009 2008 onwards - shift towards more smaller engine sizes and lower emissions.
Main Finding of SoE Report Ireland‟s environment is a strategic and valuable asset Needs to be protected and managed as a basis of economic wellbeing and a healthy society Ireland‟s environment still generally of high quality overall Recession lowered pressures in some areas (e.g. waste & GHGs) But formidable targets to meet in the coming years Overall aim must be for Irelands economic renewal to be sustainable – decoupling growth from environmental pressures Ireland’s Environment 2012 identifies four key challenges
Ireland’s Environment 2012: The Main Challenges
Valuing and Protecting our Natural Environment Ireland‟s natural environment has a great intrinsic worth A good environment is important for health and well-being of society Economic activities require use of natural resources Resources require careful and well-informed management to maximise benefits Need to ensure not exhausted/degraded for future generations Particular emphasis on water and on biodiversity
Water Quality Ireland has better than average water quality in EU 85% of the area of groundwater aquifers is at good status 71% of river channel is at high or good status 45% of lake area monitored is at high or good status 46% of the area of transitional and coastal waters at high or good status
Challenges for Water The principal cause of water pollution - nutrient enrichment from agricultural run-off and discharges from municipal WWTPs. Evidence of an overall improvement in water quality. Ireland faces major challenges to achieve WFD targets set for 2015, 2021 and 2027. Current governance & administrative arrangements not optimal to ensure delivery of WFD objectives efficiently & effectively. Review of water governance currently under way to deliver more effective integration between the key government departments, the EPA and the lead local authorities.
Nature & Biodiversity Irelands‟ has a lower diversity of non-marine flora and fauna than in continental Europe But Ireland has a range of habitats and species – many of which are important in a European context Ireland has legal obligations to protect biodiversity Includes commitment to halt biodiversity loss by 2020. Progress made in designating EU-protected areas - but process not complete Aspects of biodiversity are under threat from a range of unsustainable activities
Conservation Status of Habitats Majority of Ireland‟s habitats listed under the EU Habitats Directive in poor or bad condition Only 7% are considered to be in favourable state At EU level approx 17% of protected habitats in a favourable state
Conservation Status of Species 39% of species listed under the Habitats Directive are considered to be in favourable state (e.g. Bats, seals) Some species especially in wetland and freshwater environments considered to be in bad or poor conservation status. At EU level approx 17% of protected species in a favourable state
Building a Resource-Efficient, Low-Carbon Economy Environment and Economy closely interwoven E.g. Ireland‟s water resources to become of increasing importance to economy Resource use and waste generation are at unsustainable levels throughout the EU (EEA, 2010). Recession has curbed growth in Ireland that was unsustainable. Opportunity to break link between consumption and production and focus on resource efficiency. Resource-efficient and Low Carbon economy - „Green Economy‟ Can bring increased competitiveness and new sources of growth In 2010, 19,000 employed in Green economy sectors Up to 10,000 further jobs could be created by 2015 Longer term- even more significant, esp. in renewable energy area (DJEI, 2012)
Resource Use & Waste Waste and resource use two-side of the same coin Landfill levy and recession driving waste management towards more sustainable behaviours Resource-efficiency investments (e.g. EPA NWPP) can bring positive environmental outcomes as well as savings to businesses.
GHG Emissions – Distance to Kyoto Target Ireland on track to meet its Kyoto commitments (2008-2012) Using credits purchased; taking unused allowances from ETS) Faces considerable challenges to meet its 2020 commitments.
GHG Projections to 2020 Under most optimistic scenario, Ireland will exceed its annual limit by 2017 and exceed its 2020 target Ireland needs to reduce dependence on fossil fuels Need for major increases in energy efficiency and use of other energy sources (wind, ocean, biomass)
Implementing Environmental Legislation Historically, Ireland has not had a good history of compliance with EU environmental laws. Has resolved substantial number of EU environmental infringement cases in recent years. In coming years - Ireland has a challenging international obligations on air, water, waste, nature, GHGs „Implementation‟ will be a cornerstone of EU 7 EAP Costs associated with implementation – but also „Cost of Inaction‟ Costs of clean up of contaminated land can outweigh cost of prevention Study of IPPC licensing regime in Ireland – direct compliance costs borne by operators less than avoided external pollution costs. EU estimated cost of not implementing current legislation estimated at €50 bn Benefits to implementing - clean & protected environment important for health & wellbeing.
Putting Environment at Centre of our Decision Making Sustainable development context Environmental protection and health are also inextricably linked Economic well-being is dependant on a clean and well-managed environment Key economic sectors reliant on a high quality environment and clean, green image Sectoral plans (e.g. Food Harvest 2020) must take place in a sustainable manner Environmental considerations & priorities must be incorporated into policies & plans Strategic environmental assessment of policies and plans Good uptake since 2004 – but some sectors yet to meaningfully engage Protecting the Environment a Shared Responsibility Need leadership and co-ordinated efforts from Government and public bodies Businesses and individuals must strengthen their environmental behaviour
Summary Ireland‟s environment generally of a good standard overall Recession has reduced some pressures on the environment Meeting Ireland‟s obligations and challenges cannot be reliant on Ireland staying in a recession Ireland faces a key challenges and obligations in coming years Economic recovery and renewal – need to have sustainable development principles at the core Overall aim is to ensure that Ireland has a clean and healthy environment for future generations to enjoy.