Ireland slowly wakes to opportunity of climate change

Written by Liam Murtagh


What needs to be done at a national level and also at a local level in County Monaghan to put us back on course and play our part in averting global climate chaos?

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Dr Cara Augustenborg, Chairperson of Friends of the Earth and UCD lecturer on climate change

In a recent interview on RTE One, Dr Cara Augustenborg succinctly set out the challenges and opportunities relating to climate change. She pointed out that during the recession our emissions went down but the upturn in the economy has seen increased emissions in the transport and agriculture sectors – this is at a time when our country has committed to a reduction in emissions. She indicated that we need to seize the opportunity and invest in sustainable transport. In other words we must need to electrify more of our public transport system and incentivise the purchase of electric cars.

In relation to agriculture Dr Augustenborg said that we need to diversify into sustainable types of agriculture, some of which would potentially feed into the renewable energy sector. One can add that sustainable forestry is another area of opportunity for rural Ireland.

Dr Augustenborg argued that one hundred thousand jobs could be created if we move to a low carbon society and a fully renewable energy system. There needs to be a “just transition”, she said, in closing down peat and coal burning power stations and retraining workers for the renewable energy sector. In regard to solar PV she argued that Ireland was being left behind in the rooftop revolution. In other countries house owners are being paid for the surplus electricity they sell to the electricity providers.

In conclusion Dr Augustenborg said that the Government is legally obliged to publish a climate change mitigation plan by 10th June 2017 detailing how we will reduce emissions. The climate campaigner commented: “So far we have not seen any kind of action that would indicate how we would close the gap on meeting our 2020 and 2030 targets.”


All sectors in County Monaghan have a role to play in moving the county to a low carbon economy. This includes private businesses, the agri sector, community organisations, church bodies and public sector. As individuals if we decide to retrofit our homes to save energy or we install renewables in our homes we engage local contractors and this helps our local economy.

At a county level one key player is our local authority. Monaghan County Council has begun a public consultation process in relation to the preparation of its Monaghan County Development Plan 2019 – 2025. Now is an opportune time for members of the public to make submissions and highlight the need for County Monaghan to seize the opportunities and become a low carbon county. The new plan will extend over much of the period when Ireland will have to meet very challenging 2030 emissions targets or face heavy fines which will eventually impact badly on all of us.

It is vital that the local authority ‘sustainability proof’ all the suggestions and proposals that will be submitted for inclusion in the Plan. All the sections of the Plan are relevant in relation to Ireland’s greenhouse emissions; Housing and Population Growth, Enterprise and Employment, Environment, National Planning Framework, Rural Development, Community Facilities, Town Centres, Transport & Infrastructure, Heritage & Landscape, Tourism & the Arts. The closing date for submissions is Friday, 5 May.

dev planAbove is the opening section of Monaghan County Council’s consultation paper in relation to the 2019-2025 Development Plan. The paper poses questions and seeks your opinion on how the current issues facing your community can be addressed. Suggestions for the Plan on how our communities could move to a thriving low carbon economy / society would no doubt contribute positively to the common good. The full paper can be viewed on

A link to the May noticeboard can be found here

‘Deep retrofit’ and renewables for our homes?

Written by Liam Murtagh


Want to save money by saving or generating energy? By using improved, seai.pngaffordable technology to ‘deep retrofit’ your home or by installing a heat pump or Solar PV this could become a reality. The people in SEAI have been highlighting the opportunities.  


Deep retrofit is a new term for many people. Essentially it means significantly upgrading a building toward nearly zero energy requirements that is practically feasible and achievable. Rather than upgrading isolated parts of the house, the whole home should be assessed as a system, looking at how energy is used and retained. All aspects of the building fabric, insulation, air tightness, ventilation and renewables are assessed. While it will cost monies in the short term it will save you money in the long term.

€5 million has been allocated to the deep retrofit homes scheme. This will fund major energy efficiency upgrades to homes and low carbon heating systems this year. The new multi-annual scheme was launched at the 2017 SEAI roadshow by Minister of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Denis Naughten. It is expected to cover up to half the cost of upgrades for individual householders looking to upgrade their homes to an ‘A’ rating on the Building Energy Rating (BER) scale. Full details on how to get involved in the 2017 pilot programme will be published shortly on the SEAI website.

In a week when we heard from the EPA that Ireland’s climate damaging emissions from fossil fuels are increasing in many sectors, this deep retrofit initiative should result in a reduction in emissions from the domestic housing sector.


Solar photovoltaics (commonly referred to as ‘PV’) turn daylight into free electricity.  PVs can be installed on roofs or ground mounted and they operate completely differently from solar hot water collectors. The power from solar PVs cuts down on your electricity bills dramatically.

Many environmental groups are urging the Government to follow the practice in many other countries and ensure that homeowners who export surplus solar electricity to the grid are paid a fair price for it.

There are now many contractors installing PV – one such contractor is Energy Panel, Castleblayney. The company had a stand at the Business and Community Exhibition in Castleblayney on Saturday last. PV panels are now appearing on many commercial premises and farm buildings.   Kingspan have installed the largest solar PV panel roof in Ireland on their insulation factory in Castleblayney.

According to an SEAI report last week, Solar PV (photovoltaics) is set to become one of the most important and fastest growing energy technologies globally to help us meet climate change goals. Irish organisations could capture over €200 million annually of that market due to our research and industry strengths which can be deployed in the sector. The cost of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2009 (which is good news for those who want to add them to their homes). In the same period, solar PV has become the fastest growing power generation technology worldwide. By 2030 the European solar PV market alone could be worth up to €10bn annually.


energy panelThe showroom of Energy Panel with roof mounted PV panels. The local company had a stand at the Business & Community Exhibition in Castleblayney on Saturday last. Energy Panel supplies and installs solar PV and other energy related products.

A range of renewable energy technologies are being installed by homeowners. These could be solar thermal panels, a small wind turbine, a biomass / pellet boiler or a heat pump. Air-to-water heat pumps are also becoming increasingly popular. If you’re interested, Eurotech Group is a local company that is a leading supplier and installer of air to water heat pumps for underfloor heating and / or domestic hot water.


Existing SEAI grant schemes for basic energy efficiency improvements are still available to homeowners. The ‘Better Energy Homes’ scheme provides grants towards Roof Insulation, Wall Insulation, Installation of a High Efficiency Gas or Oil fired Boiler, Heating Control Upgrades and Solar panels. The ‘Warmer Homes Scheme’ aims to improve the energy efficiency and comfort conditions of homes occupied by vulnerable households in receipt of the National Fuel Allowance Scheme through the installation of draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation where appropriate.

liam seaiLiam Murtagh of the Castleblayney Sustainable Energy Group gives Deirdre McGinn some information on energy efficiency grants at the Business & Community Exhibition in Castleblayney on Saturday last.

On the SEAI website ( you will find a listing of BER Assessors and registered contractors for your area. In addition, there is information on energy efficiency / renewable energy options and details of SEAI grants. It is important to first get your BER completed and to get the Assessors professional advice on your next step.

The April noticeboard can be found here

Forest School: Rossmore Park Spring 2017

Transition Monaghan invited Earth Force Education (Ciara Hinksman and Lucy O Hagan) to Rossmore Park in April 2017 to deliver a series of Forest School sessions. Transition Monaghan organised this event which was part funded by Monaghan County Council.

In later years Transition Monaghan helped promote independently run events by Nourished by Nature, Tanagh OEC, Castleblayney OEC. Rainy at Wild n Free has run events in Rossmore Park in 2021 and is planning more.

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Demain / Tomorrow – Film Screening April 2017


Transition Monaghan hosted a free public screening of this upbeat film which offers a constructive approach and puts forward solutions to many environmental problems facing mankind.


Demain / Tomorrow offers solutions and a feel-good story that will leave you with hope and great ideas for the future. The approach being recommended in the film may well be the best way to solve the ecological, economic and social crises that many countries are going through.

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Carrickmacross Youthreach Video on Waste in ECO—UNESCO Awards semi-finals

Congratulations to the Carrickmacross Youthreach students who have made it through to this year’s ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards semi-finals. Their film, entitled ‘What A Waste’, aims to highlight the scale of the waste issue, its negative effects on the environment and it suggests what we all can do to help solve the problem. ‘What A Waste’ can be viewed on Youtube or via a link on Transition Monaghan’s Facebook page.

Time to ‘be-leaf’ in Vegetarianism!

This week Transition Monaghan member Laura Hannon – and a vegetarian herself


Laura Hannon

– explains why she believes that moving to a non-meat diet is good for our health and for our planet.



 We are fond of our meat in Ireland, including it in almost every meal of the day. Whether it is the sausages nestled between the bacon and pudding in our fry, or the chicken sandwich we snack on at lunch time, to the spaghetti bolognese we wolf down for dinner, we always manage to incorporate it somehow. Many may say it is far from a vegetarian/vegan diet we were reared and they would not be far wrong, but we have reached an unforeseen excess and something has got to give. Despite this, an encouraging 10% of the population have found to be currently following a vegetarian diet in Ireland and this number is only increasing as people become more educated on the matter and establish the connection between this unnecessary overindulgence and its effect on our planet.


 The UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) urges “shifting consumption away from animal products, especially from ruminant sources in high meat consuming societies”. Unfortunately this is not reflected in the recent Climate Plan produced by the Irish Government.


Is there a ‘cowspiracy’ in Ireland?

US filmmaker Kip Andersen was astounded to learn, during the creation of his documentary Cowspiracy that livestock and their byproducts contribute to at least 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. He also discovered that the agricultural sector is responsible for at least one third of all fresh water consumption globally. Livestock or livestock feed occupy one third of the earth’s land and animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. What Kip could not understand was why this information did not seem to be acknowledged accordingly. When he searched the websites of all the major environmental organisations they all cited fossil fuels as the major contributing factor to the emission of greenhouse gases. When Kip questioned representatives of these organisations in interviews, there seemed to be a running theme of uncomfortable mutism. Evidently this was something that they were choosing to ignore.


After further research Kip learned that all these major organisations are membership based. They run on public contributions. If they challenged the habits of the general public, their benefactors, it would hurt their fundraising. People just about do their recycling and if we use energy efficient light bulbs and take quick showers we feel we are saving the world. Yes, these practices are all commendable but their effect is incomparable to the effect that consuming animal produce has. Perhaps it’s not just in the US where there is a ‘cowspiracy’.


Aside from the catastrophic effects agriculture has on the environment, eating meat poses ethical uncertainties too. We are so far removed from the source of our food that we barely even associate meat with the animal it came from. If people had to hear the squeals of a pig being brought to slaughter or if they had to witness a cow being forcibly impregnated just so she would produce milk only to have her newborn calf being torn from her to be used as veal, we would undoubtedly see a considerable drop in the consumption of animals and their by-products.


If for no other reason, we should consider a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle for our health. In the documentary, Kip visits physician, Dr. Michael Klaper, who himself had grown up on a dairy farm but had been vegan for over thirty years. Meat and dairy is now proven to cause medical complications such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes. Dr. Klaper describes milk as ‘baby calf growth fluid’ designed by nature ‘to turn a 65 pound calf into a 400 pound cow as quick as possible’. Nothing in cow milk is required for a healthy human diet. People can get every single nutrient needed from an exclusively plant based diet, for example, alternative sources of calcium are dark leafy greens, almonds and fortified tofu. Take MMA fighter Nate Diaz, who took down our very own Conor Mc Gregor and stripped him of his undefeated reign. Diaz has been vegan for nearly 15 years and there is no deliberation over the quality of his physical health.


 Often we like to avoid making beneficial changes in our lives like choosing veggievegetarianism because we claim that one person cannot really make a big difference. In my view that is a cop out. Eliminating meat from our diet cuts our carbon footprint automatically in half. This is a significant contribution and by making this change we are also encouraging others to follow suit.

For more information on being a vegetarian in Ireland see or the Vegetarian Society of Ireland Facebook page. On being a vegan in Ireland see or or Vegan Ireland on Facebook.

Event in April can be found here