Why did our Climate Action Plan not include Seaweed?

Jun 23, 2019

This weeks thought of the week could be no other than the new Climate Action Plan announced by our government last Monday. While I welcome the plan and it’s ambitious targets of Carbon reduction, I feel this plan is going to hurt those that have less incomes expenditure and benefit those that already make a lot of money, as now, they will also save more money than us middle class and lower income families.

Reading the report I got the niggling feeling that we are taking the “easy way out” by putting the burden of taxes to the public without properly investing and researching into innovative sustainable ways to reduce our Carbon output. Is this a punishment to kill the #GreenWave movement in Ireland?

Electric Vehicles and House retrofitting. Yes, I agree, it would be wonderful to implement this for every family in Ireland, but the plan fails to explain how? Where are we all going to get the €50,000 to €100,000, per household, required to comply with EV and retrofitting? And what happens to those of us that can not comply? We are going to pay much higher prices for our petrol, diesel, and heating oil. And soon we wont be allowed to put on the fire on in the winter!

Currently, the generation of Ireland’s electricity is 70% fossil fuels and 30% renewables. So when we all buy our electric cars, are we going to charge them with brown energy that comes from the same thing they are asking us to stop using?

And how about our heating systems? If I spend my life savings now on getting an air pump installed at my home, is that air pump then going to run on brown electricity from the grid? So why is the public asked to make these huge life changes when the government still do not have their act together on how electricity is generated to run the country?

I spoke about Costa Rica on a previous post, currently 99.5% of their electricity comes from renewal sources. We have 30%. But yet the Climate Action Plan claims on page 34 the following "The aim of the Climate Action Plan is to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate disruption."

I don’t agree that we are leaders in anything when it comes to the environment. We did nearly top the list of most plastic use per capital last year though! That, we are leaders in.

In the words of the Green Party: “This plan lacks ambition and detail.”

There are really good targets mentioned, but little detailed on how to get there. I, personally, am tired of promises that do not happen, while the public is penalised for the government mismanagement of our Energy, Waste and Water.

Agriculture is the highest Carbon emission sector in Ireland, transport is the second highest. To me, the plan should concentrate a lot more on the top two areas.

So lets look at agriculture, I have found this wonderful article by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, from November 2018.




In the article she speaks about seaweed and farming, regenerative farming of both land and sea. Going beyond sustainable or organic (as we keep trying to aim for in Ireland) and actually restoring soil and ocean health. Achieving this will put massive amounts of carbon back into soil and plants.

The Climate Action Plan released last week does not speak about the connection between agriculture and the ocean and about the alarming trends in soil health, ocean health and climate change. And how they all correlate.

The article explains that “The ocean absorbs around 40 percent of the carbon we release into the atmosphere, (thank you ocean). But this has resulted in ocean acidification, which makes it harder for shellfish and corals to grow their shells and skeletons.

Instead, absorbing that carbon into plants via ocean farming and marine permaculture can provide healthy food while being a significant part of the climate solution. Kelp can grow over one foot (30 centimeters) a day and help reduce ocean acidification. A single acre of ocean can produce 25 tons of greens and 250,000 shellfish in five months—a network of small underwater farms totaling the size of Washington state could feed the planet, not to mention the incredible potential for algae biofuels.”

Another use for seaweed is to feed live stock, and get this, a cow that is fed seaweed will release 58% less methane!! Now, Ireland is an island, and we are so lucky to have tonnes of ocean around us, and guess what, we also have tonnes of seaweed!!!! So would it not be a good idea to have a seaweed development plan within the Climate Action Plan?

If our government want Ireland to be “leaders” on the climate crisis, should we not look at agricultural solutions like seaweed? Protecting the soil and the sea as a priority for our nation? Yet, over the past few years they have allowed foreign companies harvest our seaweed and take over our shores. In 2014 Acadian Seaplants, a private Canadian company, bought out State seaweed company Arramara. When is our government going to stop selling out natural resources to the highest bidder? We need to take charge of Ireland’s natural resources, harvest them ourselves so we can ensure it is done in a sustainable manner, and that Ireland takes full advantage of the benefits of this super food. Enough with the privatisation I say!

Instead of continuing to rely on fossil-fuel–intensive manufacture of fertilizers, we can farm seaweeds that suck up carbon as they grow and can be used for food, animal feed, biofuels and fertilizer. This will in turn create employment and reduce Carbon from agriculture.

The article ends with this statement, and I could not think of a better sentence to finish mine: “Through regenerative farming, soil and seaweed, we can draw down CO2 and feed ourselves while healing the planet.”

Until next week!

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