No Time To Waste AIB Sustainability Conference

  • first session with Annie Flahavan, Financial Controller and 7thgeneration member of the Flahavan family, producers of oats; Eoin Cluskey, owner of Bread41 bakery; David Forde, Group CEO of the C&C Group including Bulmers Cider;
  • second session with climate activist and marine environmentalist Flossie Donnelly; David Connolly, CTO of wind energy supplier Astatine; John Mullins, executive chairman, Amarenco.

Climate Discussion

The climate discussion featured real-life examples of sustainable business practices that can have a positive impact on the environment and reduce carbon emissions including:

  • Flahavans using a water mill since the 1780s and currently using a wind turbine and solar panels that provide 60% of their electricity needs, calculating a 70% reduction in carbon emission that also includes using oat hulls for their biomass boiler;
  • Bulmers working with the Irish Beekeepers’ Association and providing them with a venue as well as land for apiaries, installed solar panels in their Clonmel site, also replacing mechanical grass cutters with live sheep to maintain the lawns and wildflower fields as part of a major rewilding campaign, discontinuing plastic ringpulls in 2021 (the total volume was 250 million units) to use carboard packaging, and promoting returnables (bottles and kegs) which can be reused 20 to 25 times.

Key Figures

These are some of the figures on climate and emission reduction relayed by the presenters at the conference during the panel discussion:

  • A 2008 study (mentioned by David Connolly of Astatine) predicted that Ireland would achieve a target of 40% renewable energy in the short term, however this happened in 2022 with wind energy thanks to stakeholders working together. The SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) had a target of at least 16% of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 (source) and this was a mandatory target under the EU Renewable Energy Directive. For context, in 2008 Ireland only achieved 3.6% of electricity from renewables (source) and 13.5% in 2020. Ireland is still lagging behind other countries with regards to heat, but by using existing technology in sectors such as transport and heating there is the potential to reduce carbon emissions considerably. At the moment only 6% of heat is renewable compared to 10 times as much in Sweden.
  • Already in the 1950s scientists realised the heating and energy-producing potential of solar power. Investing in solar power gives a constant return of 7–8% per year. It makes sense to look at solar power for heating households especially if we consider countries like Austria which rely heavily on the supply of Russian gas, with wholesale prices going up.
  • Hydrogen has the potential to become a backbone/pillar for energy production, but in the meantime heat pumps are underutilised and more investment in heat pumps can make a huge difference in emission reduction. In Sweden 25% of homes have heat pumps.
Dr Jane Goodall

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Paola Bassanese

Paola Bassanese

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Author and freelance writer. I work with clients to create engaging communications. Keen forager and on a mission to have a low carbon footprint