The end of an era: In 2019, Bórd Na Móna will begin closing 62 bogs.
Fr. Seán McDonagh, SSC
In October 2018, Tom Donnellan, the chief executive of Bord Na Móna, announced that the company was to move away from harvesting peat because carbon emissions is having an adverse impact on climate change.
Peat, also known as turf, is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation formed when plant material is deposited in an oxygen-poor environment, generally one that is saturated with water.
Bórd na Móna was established in 1933 as the Turf Development Board, Limited. The activities of the Bórd expanded greatly during World War II, when there was a huge restriction on sourcing other fossil fuels such as coal or gas. The goal of Bórd na Móna at that time, was to make peat the preferred fuel for Irish people, both inside and outside the traditional turf cutting areas.
From the middle of the 1980s, it became known through reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that emissions from fossil fuels were one of the causes of climate change. According to new research, while turf has a lower calorific value than coal, it still produces higher CO2 emissions per unit, making it one of the least climate-friendly way of producing heat and electricity.
Peat volumes hit their highest point in 2013, when 6.5 million tonnes were harvested. Figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), show that burning peat was responsible for some 3.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland in 2016. 75% was for generating electricity in peat-burning stations and 25% for heating homes. Altogether, peat heat emissions accounted for 9% of carbon emissions from total Irish fossil fuel use.
In Ireland, the Climate Change Advisory Board have been advising Bórd Na Móna to stop using peat burning electrical stations. Moving away from peat, by gradually closing 62 bogs will cost jobs, particularly in the Irish Midlands region where jobs are scarce now, and no other industry is being targeted for the area. Bórd Na Móna believes that 500 jobs will be lost, beginning early in 2019. The company is hoping that workers in their 50s and early 60s will be attracted by voluntary redundancy packages.