Ireland ranks low globally on biodiversity and climate record, finds report

Published by Ja Wei Lee on

February 12th, 2018

Ireland’s ranks ninth in the world for its overall environmental record, but falls down badly in the areas of biodiversity and climate action, a new global report has found.

The 2018 Environment Performance Index (EPI) ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across the two major policy areas of Environmental Health and Ecosystem Vitality.

The Index, prepared by Yale and Colombia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, ranks Switzerland first for environmental sustainability and protection, followed by France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden.

The report indicates that countries with high rankings tend to show long-term commitments for protecting public health, preserving natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Air Quality

The index found air quality to be the most hazardous environmental factor that affects public health, estimating that airborne pollutants contribute to two-thirds of lives lost due to environmental destruction.

Air pollution is particularly severe in rapidly urbanizing and industrialized countries such as China and India, which is reflected in their low standings in the Index.

Ireland is ranked 14th for air quality and 11th for air pollution. According to the EPA, the burning of solid fuels such as peat, wood, and coal is the key driver of poor air quality in Ireland.

Industrial Emissions Photo: Dirk Duckhorn

Industrial Emissions Photo: Dirk Duckhorn

Climate and Biodiversity Issues

The Index states that three-fifths of the world has brought down their CO2 intensity levels over the past 10 years. Ireland’s emissions, however, increased by 3.5 percent in 2016, according to the latest data from the EPA.

This is reflected in Ireland’s ranking of 72nd place in the Index’s Climate and Energy category. Ireland ranks even worse for methane emissions and nitrous oxide emissions intensity, coming in at 159th and 140th place respectively.

This is linked to Ireland’s agriculture emissions, which accounts for one-third of total emissions in Ireland and almost 90 per cent of total nitrous oxide and 85 per cent of methane emissions.

The Index indicates that Ireland’s biodiversity is also in a precarious state, ranking us in 42nd place for protection of our biodiversity and habitats. According to the latest National Biodiversity Action Plan, 91 per cent of the habitats assessed in Ireland are of a “bad” or “inadequate” condition.

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Ja Wei Lee

Ja Wei is a third-year journalism student from DIT. He is passionate about writing, exploring new ideas and has a keen interest in social issues