Turning the land from an emissions source to a carbon sink

By Corinna Byrne, from Fleeing Vesuvius. Farming and other land-based activities could do a lot to mitigate global warming. Ireland needs new policies to get its land to absorb CO2 rather than release it. The large amounts of carbon locked up in the country’s peatlands must be safeguarded and damaged bogs restored so that they can sequester carbon again. In addition, the use of biochar could reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions and build up the fertility and carbon content of the soil.

Proximity 2.0: Cutting transport costs and emissions through local integration

In this chapter from Fleeing Vesuvius, Emer O'Siochru describes how different activities should be situated beside each other to be more energy and carbon efficient. This flies in the face of current development planning which tends to focus on bringing similar activities closer together to reap the benefits of scale and agglomeration.

How are rising CO2 emissions linked to a rising world population?

Many discussions on sustainability rarely mention the world's growing population and whether current or projected future levels are – or can be made – compatible with living within the limits set by the Earth's regenerative capacity. David Knight's paper shows that the growing population is not incompatible with lower levels of energy use, but that the rising levels of consumption in rich countries and “emerging” ones like Brazil, India and China certainly are.

The costs and benefits of moving out of beef and into biofuel

Most beef farmers in Ireland are losing money. In view of this, some policymakers and commentators think that it would be in the national interest to encourage a lot of them to give up their loss-making hobby and to switch to growing biofuels instead. The Carbon Cycles and Sinks Network is preparing a report which explores this idea and draws some unexpected conclusions, and comments are very welcome.

Building a greenhouse gas emissions reduction and sinks development programme into the CAP

This submission was made by the Carbon Cycles and Sinks Network. It describes a possible framework for a Rural Environmental Protection-type framework which would reward farmers for practices that were likely to lead to their reducing their GHG emissions and also increasing the carbon content of their soils and the biomass growing on them. It suggests that best farming practice is re-assessed in the light of its climate effects and sequestration potential and re-defined if necessary. Farm payments would be made conditional on the adoption of these new best practice standards. No attempt would be made to pay farmers for …