As human activity is declared to be responsible for causing global warning, there is now an even greater need for us to implement carbon reduction strategies.
The IPCC has increased its level of certainty over the causes of global warming: forget the woolly thinking alternatives, the bad news is that human activity is directly in the frame as the culprit. The good news is that this means we can do something about it.
While the financial and economic justifications for adopting low emissions technologies are still valid (it makes good business sense to go green) the long-term sustainability of our technological advances, our business practices and our existing social models depends on the widespread reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
A quick look at this table of the big culprits and the relative innocents in carbon emissions shows that if we want to do something about our responsibility for global warming, we need to adopt more wind, solar, and hydro in power generation.
In terms of energy consumption, we also must adopt less energy profligate practices also.
We need to look at the areas most likely to generate the best savings. As the diagram above shows, the grand project to electrify cars will have a relatively small effect, unless it is combined with smart demand side regulation which will in turn enable getting more intermittent renewables onto the grid.
As we can see the big emitter is electricity and heat. While Ireland is making good progress towards its 2020 targets of 40% of electricity generated from renewables (in 2011 it stood at 17.6 per cent), more imaginative versatile energy policies should be adopted. Facilitating micro-grids and enabling a localised generation and distribution networks with community ownership and sharing of benefits would give a shot in the arm to the campaign towards achieving that 40% target.