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UCC report reveals mixed pollution results due to Covid-19 restrictions

Wednesday, 20th May, 2020 3:22pm

Pollution from cars has dropped but air pollution from solid fuel burning has not changed during the Covid-19 lockdown, a new report has found.

Researchers at Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI), the research centre in energy, climate and marine at UCC, have revealed the first full picture of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on Ireland’s energy related pollution levels.

Since Covid-19 restrictions came into force, the use of planes, trains and automobiles have all seen a dramatic fall and this snapshot illustrates exactly what impact these restrictions on movement across the nation are having on Ireland’s pollution levels. The analysis also shows that for every week of lockdown, Irish people will reclaim five hours that would have otherwise been spent stuck in their car.

Nine out of ten flights have been cancelled since restrictions commenced, and if flight restrictions continue, it would be the equivalent of switching off Moneypoint coal fired power station for six months, the research showed.

One of the UCC-based researchers, Dr James Glynn, said: “Covid-19 lockdown measures across the globe are creating a natural experiment for climate and energy researchers to observe how extreme demand scenarios can drive large scale fossil fuel demand destruction and collapse oil market prices. By exploring the impact these restrictions are having on Ireland’s pollution levels, we are also seeking to understand feasible actions to mitigate climate change.

“We need to make long-term, equitable and sustainable changes to our lifestyles, to our economy and to our energy system. Climate change mitigation is a marathon event requiring rapid and sustained steady changes in how we consume energy.”

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