Cork city will experience more river surface and tidal flooding, a new study has found. Photo: Jamie O’Sullivan/Unsplash

Cork to face more floods and droughts

Unless serious action is taken to reduce emissions, Cork city is facing more frequent and severe flooding, droughts, and heatwaves. That is according to research completed for Cork City Council’s Climate Action Unit.

The Cork City Council Climate Change Risk Assessment, led by Dr Barry O’Dwyer, used the Government’s projections of what Ireland’s climate is likely to be by 2050 to estimate how the pattern of extreme weather events already experienced in Cork might change and affect our population. The assessment found that all types of river, surface and tidal flooding, droughts and heatwaves will be more frequent and severe. These events will cause increasingly expensive losses and damage to infrastructure, health, environment and cultural heritage. The report called for action to minimise these growing risks, by cutting emissions, especially from buildings and road transport. The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy said: “Increasingly, every year we see different parts of Europe affected by dramatic, climate-driven disasters like floods and fires.

“If we want to reduce the chance of similar things happening here, we must play our part by reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the climate changes that are already locked in.”

A separate report compiled for the Climate Action Unit has found that home energy usage and road transport emissions are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse gases being generated in Cork city.

The Modelling and Spatial Mapping of Cork City Baseline Emissions study, completed by UCC’s School of Engineering and Architecture, gathered data on emissions from homes, vehicles and businesses.

It calculated energy demand and modelled CO2 emissions across transport, residential, commercial, public, agriculture, fishing and waste while mapping energy and CO2 emissions and comparing them against national emissions models.

The research, led by Dr Marguerite Nyhan, found that Cork city is releasing nearly 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the air every year. The 78,856 homes in the city contribute 34 per cent of total emissions, road transport, especially cars, account for another 29 per cent.

The most congested roads in the city include the South Ring, N8 and Anglesea Street which are emissions blackspots. The remaining balance of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions are from commercial and industrial buildings which contribute another 22 per cent, public services 7 per cent, agriculture and fisheries 6 per cent and waste 2 per cent.

Speaking after publication of the report, Green Party councillor for Cork City North East, and chair of the Cork City Council Climate Action Committee, Oliver Moran, said the results show the areas where most change has to happen.

"The report shows the focus on retrofitting homes, shifting how electricity is generated, and investing in walking, cycling and public transport is the right way to go. People have been told small changes can make a big difference. In fact, it's large-scale systematic change that we need.

"Getting behind BusConnects in your local community and taking-up solar and home energy grants, that's the real change that people can do. The other side of that transition is better public transport, warmer homes, and generating energy from our own natural resources, which is better for everyone,” he said.