Bord na Móna ‘Naturally Driven’ : great slogan, shame about the facts
Bord na Móna’s corporate rebranding as ‘Naturally Driven’ is an exercise in cynicism, according to An Taisce. It pedals empty PR slogans in place of genuine reform of what could well be Ireland’s single dirtiest, most polluting and ecologically damaging organisation.
“We suggest they drop their new ‘Naturally Driven’ slogan and replace it with ‘Profit Driven’. Then Bord na Móna would at least be able to sell its business plan with a straight face", according to An Taisce’s climate change committee spokesperson, John Gibbons. “The industrial mining of peat is one of the least sustainable and most environmentally unfriendly industries on the face of the planet.”
"It has been estimated that the annual emissions from Ireland's degraded peatlands are roughly equal to Ireland's annual transport emissions from cars. There is no future in peat, if we hope to prevent the devastating consequences of climate change and global biodiversity loss”.
He continued “Bord na Móna have effectively told us that they will stop mining peat when there is no peat left to mine and through a flashy media campaign have marketed this as ‘progress’. Meanwhile, this semi-state company continues to destroy with impunity some of Ireland’s most endangered habitats and unique cultural landscapes.”
Gibbons added “Its statement that it will continue to devastate Ireland’s fragile boglands for the next 14 years to feed millions of tonnes of peat into three hopelessly inefficient, loss-making peat-fired power stations being propped up by compulsory levies on electricity bill-payers is about as far from ‘sustainable’ as it is possible to be”.
Based on the current level of subsidies being paid, An Taisce estimates that over the remaining life of these peat-fired stations, up to €1.5 billion in PSO subsidies will be handed over to keep them open. Apart from the economic madness and regional environmental degradation, destruction of our bogs is a massive contributor to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In order to meet our Paris and EU targets, we must urgently decarbonise the Irish economy. There is no justification whatever for Bord na Móna, a state-controlled company, continuing a policy that completely undermines national efforts to achieve rapid reductions in dangerous greenhouse gases.
An Taisce expressed concern at Bord na Móna’s statement: “Our target to cease harvesting peat for power by 2030 is a clear destination point in our journey to sustainability”. Apart from the complete unacceptability of continuing peat harvesting for power generation for another decade and a half, nowhere in the above statement does Bord na Móna commit to exiting its equally damaging horticultural and domestic peat businesses.
“For a company engaged in the massive strip-mining of millions of tonnes of Ireland’s most fragile landscapes to boast on its website that it is becoming more ‘environmentally friendly’ by encouraging its employees to 'print less, turn off lights and recycle more' strongly suggests an organisation that is in the most profound denial of the environmental consequences of its ‘core business’ and is instead engaged in an expensive greenwashing exercise".
The organisation claims they have turned over a new leaf and have the best interests of local communities at heart, yet at the height of the past winter’s floods Bord na Móna continued to pump flood water off their bogs and back into the Shannon. This kept Bord na Móna’s peat dry while downstream communities bore the brunt of the flood waters.
Ireland needs to immediately to put an exit strategy in place that will bring about the cessation of all forms of peat extraction by 2020 at the very latest. The redirection of the PSO levies must be part of a broader government agenda for a different development of rural Ireland, one based on genuine sustainability, where intact bogs are a vital part of flourishing local tourism.
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland