Irish Doctors for the Environment call on local councillors


To reduce emissions, improve population health, and restore the natural world






Dear councillors,

Congratulations to all new and returning county and city councillors across Ireland.

We write to you all as concerned healthcare workers and students. The effects of the combined climate and nature crisis are already having negative effects on people in Ireland. Extreme weather, poor diets, inactivity, air and sound pollution, and lack of access to nature are all negatively affecting population health.

Ireland has already experienced a number of major flood events around the country over the last decade, and climate change is anticipated to further increase the risk of floods. We have only started to see the effects of heatwaves. Almost 2000 people die prematurely due to poor air quality in Ireland every year. Our unsustainable, unhealthy diets are causing enormous harm to people of all ages. A large proportion of the Irish population do not get enough exercise, and given Ireland’s lack of thriving nature, access to nature remains poor.

These are all issues you as councillors can address.

Your five-year term will take us within months of 2030, the year in which we will have to have reduced our emissions by 50%. The next five years will define our lifetimes. Climate action is not some future issue. It is on your shoulders now.

We call on you to act. We call on you to take action to reduce emissions, improve population health, and restore our shared natural world. Now that you have been elected to local government, you each have the power to deliver on the following actions:

  1. Transport: Facilitate a rapid modal shift away from fossil-fuel powered individual modes of transport to active and public transport. Wider footpaths, protected, wide mobility and cycle lanes and expanded bus, LUAS and train networks are urgently needed to make this possible.
  2. Green and Blue Spaces: Improve urban access to nature through tree planting, linear parklets, and new or improved parks. Support rural forest regeneration and nature restoration. Improve Ireland’s water quality and improve the access and quality of our blue spaces.
  3. Sustainable Development: Promote and support initiatives such as 15-minute cities, energy efficient buildings, retrofitting, and sustainable building practices. Incentivise local businesses to adopt sustainable and green policies. Build sustainable and climate resilient communities.
  4. Food System: Create a more sustainable, environmentally friendly food system. Move towards a healthier, more plant-based diet. Reduce food waste. Support farmers to transition to more sustainable practices.
  5. Air Quality: Prioritise safe, clean air. Introduce ultra-low emissions zones and clean air zones. Expand the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network. Improve access to active and public transport.

These are turbulent political times. But we urge you not to reject science, not to ignore peoples’ health. The actions outlined above can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, support biodiversity, improve air quality, reduce fuel poverty, and improve population health.

There are 949 of you. You might come from different backgrounds and have different political views, but you all have one thing in common: you live on this planet.

Le meas,

Irish Doctors for the Environment Registered charity number: 20205893.


Originally published at







European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

Happy 50th Anniverary!

Set up in 1974, the EEB is the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe. Initially the Bureau was developed as a by-product of the European community economic integration but slowly evolved to an independent policy organization covering all aspects of environmental issues and European environmental law.  The European Council adopted, for example, more than 600 pieces of environmental law between 1970 and 2013, exceeding one act every month.

It currently consists of over 180 member organisations in 40 countries, including a growing number of networks, and representing some 30 million individual members and supporters.  It is headquartered in Brussels, and funded by the OECD, the UNEP, the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the Climate Works Foundation, and EU member state governments.

The EEB advocates for progressive policies to “create a better environment in the European Union and beyond through agenda setting, monitoring, advising on and influencing the way the EU deals with environmental problems.”  Such work focuses on a wide variety of issues, including climate change, biodiversity, pollution and waste prevention.

The EEB is seen as an umbrella organization that is open to NGOs active in dealing with the environment.  It includes a broad range of national members including the following from Ireland: An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland; Feasta: the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability; FIE – Friends of the Irish Environment; IEN- Irish Environmental Network; IWT- Irish Wildlife Trust; SWAN- Sustainable Water Network; VOICE – Voice of the Irish Concern for the Environment; and Zero Waste Alliance Ireland.  The following organizations from the United Kingdom are members of the EEB: Green Alliance; LINK – Scottish Environment Link; Population Matters; RSPB – Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; The Restart Project; and, Woodland Trust.

“EEB runs working groups with its members, produces position papers on topics that are, or EEB feels should be, on the EU agenda, and represents its members in discussions with the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.”

The EEB also reaches out to other groups, networks and campaigns that are focusing on specific issues and challenges, including mercury contamination and energy-related Coolproducts, as well as broader pan-European matters such as access to Justice, the Aarhus Convention and Sustainable Development.

As part of its engagement with others concerned about the protection of our environment, “The EEB supplies quality information to the public, its members and the European institutions through articles, reports and papers. It offers expert comment, analysis and recommendations on most of the latest environmental issues.”

In selecting which issues to address, the EEB evaluates a variety of criterion such as the impact a specific policy has on the environment, the EEB’s potential to make a difference on a policy level, public and media concern, or a project’s potential to get funded.

There are numerous academic publications that document environmental issues from highly technical perspectives.  But many of those deeply engaged in environmental issues, including individual members of the many organizations belonging to EEB, need clarity as much as details.  And one of the most important contributions of EEB has been been its commitment and success in presenting complex environmental issues in ways that are both accessible and accurate.

The EEB has provided that function for 50 years and we look forward to more of the same for another 50 years, and beyond.



EU  Organisations, European Environmental Bureau

Henning Deters, “European environmental policy at 50: Five decades of escaping decision traps?” Environmental Policy and Governance (Sept 2019).

Brittany Demogenes, “Best Climate Practice EU: The European Environmental Bureau,” Climate Scorecard (May 10, 2021).


Low cost airlines pollute more than ever,

Ryan Air leads the way

More than three quarters of European aviation emissions aren’t subject to a carbon price, new study shows.

Ryanair is Europe’s top polluting airline for the third year in a row, a new study on 2023 aviation emissions by green group Transport & Environment (T&E) shows. Lufthansa and British Airways are the second and third biggest polluters, but are still below their pre-Covid levels of flying. Budget airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air polluted more than ever last year – far past their peak in 2019. Ryanair emitted 15 Mt of CO2 in 2023 – 23% higher than pre-Covid levels – whilst Wizz Air’s emissions grew 40% in that time. Ryanair’s emissions are equivalent to that of seven million petrol cars in a year.

In 2023, one flight out of four in Europe was operated by one of the three main low cost carriers (easyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air), the analysis shows. In 2019, it was one out of five, showing that budget airlines are growing their market share in Europe. On the other hand, legacy carriers including Air France, Lufthansa, KLM and British Airways, have lost 2.8 pp market share since Covid.

Jo Dardenne, aviation director at T&E, explains: “The low cost business model is driving unsustainable growth in the sector. We were lured into thinking that airlines would build back better after Covid, but with this exorbitant increase of pollution by budget airlines, ‘green’ aviation will never see the light of day. Clean technologies, like sustainable aviation fuels, won’t be able to keep up with the growth of Ryanair, Wizz Air and others.”

Despite low-cost growth, legacy carriers and selected third country carriers are still responsible for the bulk of European aviation emissions (42.2%) because they fly long-haul. In fact, the study finds that 20 airlines (European legacy carriers and the biggest third country carriers) are responsible for a larger share of emissions than that of over 400 airlines flying from Europe combined.

Air France and Lufthansa paid for as little as 7 and 16% of their emissions last year, because of the limited scope of the European carbon markets and the free allowances given to airlines[1]. Without these exemptions, Lufthansa would have paid over €800 million for its CO2 emissions last year – yet ended up paying as little as €130 million. When broken down per tonne of CO2, Lufthansa paid a meager €13 and Air France, just €5. But even budget airlines, which must pay for a larger share of their emissions because they fly more intra-European routes, didn’t pay for half of their CO2, as a result of the free pollution permits given to them in 2023.

As a whole, as much as 78% of aviation’s CO2 emissions weren’t priced last year, because they didn’t fall under the scope of the carbon markets or they are given to airlines for free. And CO2 is just the tip of the iceberg, as non-CO2 emissions, which warm the planet at least as much as CO2 and are not yet subject to any pricing scheme.

“Flying is far too cheap. Whether we are talking of legacy carriers or budget airlines, the aviation sector is not paying enough for its carbon emissions. Over ten years after the carbon market was introduced for aviation, the system still falls short when it comes to incentivising a shift away from fossil flying. This absurd situation where a passenger pays more for their coffee at the airport than some airlines pay for their emissions must come to an end,” explains Jo Dardenne.

In 2023, Europe’s most frequented route was London-Dublin with approximately 44 flights a day (one-way), the study finds. On the second busiest route, London-Amsterdam Schiphol, which has a direct four-hour train alternative, more than 43 flights departed every day last year. The five most polluting routes departing from Europe were all intercontinental, meaning they are not priced under the EU, Swiss or UK’s carbon market, which only applies to flights within Europe. As a result, no airline had to pay for its emissions on the most polluting route departing from Europe – the London-Dubai leg – even though it accounted for 2.3 Mt of CO2 in 2023.

T&E calls for an extension of the ETS to all extra-European flights departing from a European airport as part of the revision of the EU law in 2026. This would correct the current situation where most aviation emissions are excluded from any effective carbon pricing mechanism. At the same time, policy makers should revise the kerosene tax under the Energy Taxation Directive and consider measures to reduce demand at European airports, to ensure the sector truly builds back better.

[1] The carbon markets for aviation (also known as Emissions Trading Scheme) in the EU, Switzerland and the UK apply to intra-European lights only, meaning that legacy carriers operating most of their flights outside of Europe don’t have to pay for the majority of their emissions.


For national data for France, Germany and UK see original publication in



Europe’s transport sector set to make up almost half of the continent’s emissions in 2030

Since a peak in 2007, the transport sector has decarbonised three times slower than the rest of the economy, making it the ‘problem child’ of Europe’s climate efforts

Transport alone is set to make up nearly half of Europe’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030, new Transport & Environment (T&E) analysis shows. European transport emissions have increased by more than a quarter since 1990, and T&E’s State of European Transport analysis finds that while emissions across the wider economy are already in decline, transport emissions continue to grow. Europe must start taking its transport emissions problem seriously if it is to achieve net zero in 2050, says T&E.

Explore the data

Since its peak in 2007, transport has been decarbonising more than three times slower than the rest of the economy. Under current climate policies its share could reach 44% of all GHG emissions by 2030, up from 29% today. Transport emissions in the EU are now more than 1000 MtCO2e, equivalent to the total emissions of Germany and the Netherlands combined. While transport emissions are unlikely to return to their most recent peak in 2019, unless additional measures are taken Europe will fail to reach net zero in 2050.

William Todts, Executive Director of T&E, said: “The good news is transport emissions in Europe have peaked. The bad news is other sectors are decarbonising three times faster. In 2030, nearly half of the continent’s emissions will come from mobility, making it the problem child of Europe’s climate efforts. Decarbonising the sector as quickly as possible is now vital if the continent is to reach zero by 2050.”

Cars burning petrol and diesel are the overwhelming source of transport emissions, accounting for more than 40%. Car dependence has increased since the 1990s, enabled by motorway building and a growing car fleet. Only recently are we starting to see a reduction in average car emissions as a wave of electric vehicles come to the market.

Aviation emissions have doubled in the past 30 years – faster than any other transport sector. The additional impact of aviation emissions from contrails potentially triples the climate impact of flying.

The analysis looks at the impact of the EU’s climate regulations in addressing runaway transport emissions, and finds that they will reduce transport emissions by just 25% compared to 1990 levels in 2040 and by 62% in 2050. Cars, vans and trucks bought between now and the mid-2030s will still be driving on European roads, burning petrol and diesel for years to come. Shipping operators have little incentive to increase their operational efficiency, and demand for flights, spurred on by increasing airport capacity, offsets any gains from green fuel uptake this decade.

T&E’s analysis highlights that as well as fully implementing key Green Deal policies, additional efforts will be needed to fully decarbonise transport. These include:

Preventing new and ever growing demand for transport, by halting new airport and motorway capacity expansion, is key to reducing the renewable energy required to decarbonise the sector.

Ambitious and binding electric vehicle sales targets for companies that own large fleets of vehicles are key to accelerating the transition to zero-emissions. Coupled with measures to prevent growth and to tackle the existing car stock, these could cut emissions by a further 213 MtCO2e savings in 2040.

Unlocking efficiency gains in the shipping sector could save an additional 93 MtCO2e in 2030, crucial for charting a course to zero emissions by mid century.

Direct electrification of road transport is more than 2 times more efficient than hydrogen power, and 4 times more efficient than using e-fuels. Europe cannot afford to waste renewable electrons.

Preliminary data shows that road transport emissions reduced by 8 MtCO2e last year and shipping by 5 MtCO2e. This reduction was undone by the continued rebound and growth of aviation emissions, which increased by 15 MtCO2.











Todts continued: “Cars, trucks and vans can be cheaply electrified with batteries and renewables. This is now some of the lowest hanging fruit in climate action. Planes and ships pose a tougher challenge, and require a big effort from fuel suppliers to scale green fuels like e-kerosene and ammonia, and a plan to eliminate aviation contrails. Putting an end to road and airport expansion makes the decarbonisation job a lot easier.”


Is the weather running AMOC in Ireland

Will Ireland be transformed into Iceland?

AMOC refers to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which is a large system of ocean currents where warm shallow water is moved north from the topics and then returned south by colder, deeper ocean currents.  Such movement of the ocean currents provides a more mild climate for Ireland than in equivalent territories at the same latitude which are not affected by AMOC.  The Gulf Stream is part of the AMOC.  To the extent the AMOC is disrupted or lessened, the weather in Ireland may turn into that of Iceland.

At a recent gathering to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Energy Agency Mary Robinson spoke of how the celebration was well deserved, but that “Actually, we’re not in as good a place as we need to be at all.”

In outlining many of the “very bad things [that]may happen” because of climate breakdown, she includes the disappearing coral reefs, and the disappearance of arctic ice and the permafrost.  She adds , “And now we have something new that I don’t recall them mentioning, which is the changes to the Gulf Stream,’  referring to the increasing risk from the weakening of the AMOC.  She notes in her as usual direct and most engaging manner: “For Ireland, that really would not be funny.”

Not funny indeed.

If the AMOC is disrupted or weakened, sea levels in the Atlantic will rise by a meter, flooding many coastal cities, and wet and dry seasons in the Amazon could reverse.  Temperatures across the globe would be transformed, with Europe becoming colder with less rainfall.  And the changes could be affected by a slow decline but then lead to a sudden collapse over fewer than 100 years.

Ireland is located at the same latitude as parts of Canada and Siberia and yet its climate is much warmer.  That’s in part because of the AMOC.  If the AMOC does weaken, even disappear, Ireland’s weather would be more artic than tropical. Good bye to palm and cabbage palm trees in southwestern Ireland.

But how likely is that the AMOC will weaken or disappear, and if it does what will Ireland’s weather be like?

When we first came across the AMOC several decades ago, there seemed to be a consensus among scientists, including in IPCC reports, that the weakening, and especially collapse of the AMOC, was a theoretical possibility but unlikely, maybe highly unlikely, in the 21st century.

Even the sixth IPCC report (2015-23) continued to suggest, with “medium confidence,” that the AMOC would not collapse before the end of the century

That position is shifting.

“A 2019 article from the UK Met Office found that while a total  AMOC shutdown this century is very unlikely, it does remain a possibility.”  Borlace, Just Have a think, climate solutions.

Recent research indicates that Greenland’s glaciers and Arctic ice sheets are melting faster than expected, poring freshwater into the sea and promoting decline in the AMOC.  Since 1950 there has been a 15% decline in the AMOC, which is now at its weakest state in more than a millennium.

Other research suggests that the tipping point for any decline or collapse will be reached between 2025 and 2095.

Others estimate a collapse of the AMOC to occur around mid-century under the current scenario of future emissions.

And if the collapse occurs, it will be quick.

If there is further weakening or a collapse of AMOC, what will it look like in Ireland?  One view is reflected  in the 2004 hit movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow,” which used the AMOC for the plot line.  See, Borlace.  The movie wildly exaggerated the effects so it is not worth relying on.  Alternatively we can look at the existing weather conditions in comparable cities at the same latitude and estimate the climate.

What we need is a thorough, detailed assessment of the range of conditions that Ireland could face as a result of the weakening or collapse of the AMOC.  Such a picture would differ from a view of Ireland with no changes in the AMOC.   That’s not a simple proposition, but at least it might suggest some scope of the changes.  For a simplistic example, a harsh cooling or freezing of the climate will demand extensive heating infrastructure while heating of the climate without any further weakening of the AMOC will demand extensive air conditioning.



Daniel Murray, “Mary Robinson on Eamon Ryan’s international appeal and how to appease Irish farmers,” Business Post Ireland (16 Feb 2024).

Just have a think – climate solutions, with Dave Borlace, on “Abrupt global ocean circulations collapse.  Time to start prepping?” (11 Dec 2022)

Sam Starkey, “An ocean current keeps Ireland warm. What could happen if it collapses?” Green News (11 August 2021).

Kevin O’Sullivan, “Collapse of Atlantic ocean current could turn Ireland’s climate into Iceland’s: potential changes to system known as Amoc would transform Ireland’s benign climate, Fianna Fáil senator warns,” The Irish Times (16 Feb 2024).

Doyle Rice, “Melting ice could create chaos in US weather and quickly overwhelm oceans, studies warn,” USA Today (9 Feb 2024).

Peter Ditlevsen and Susanne Ditlevsen, “Warning of a forthcoming collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation,” Nature Communications (25 July 2023).