Like us, our fellow Europeans are looking for ways to reduce energy costs. In Ireland, in particular, people in rural areas are switching to burning peat.
This year, Ireland would for the first time seriously protect its swamps, which are important for CO2 storage, ecosystem conservation and water management, but that was beyond the high energy costs, which force households to heat peat again.
The burning of peat blocks, something that used to happen in the Netherlands is bad for the environment, but now that the temperatures are falling, it can bring thousands of euros to Irish families. For a year of heating peat, an Irishman only pays around 500 euros, while other forms of heating cost many times as much.
“People are happy that they have peat. It’s like there’s an oil well in your backyard,” said MP Michael Fitzmaurice. “It gives you energy.”
Consumers are in a pinch, Niall Ó Brolcháin, a researcher at the National University of Ireland, told The Guardian. “The financial component is a much stronger motivation than saving the planet. People are experiencing a direct crisis.”
Peat burning has never completely disappeared from Ireland: 14 percent of households do it and for 4 percent it is the main way of heating. But the use of peat took off this year. There are no official figures, but it is estimated that peat use has increased by 30 to 200 percent.
The Irish receive all kinds of compensation for their high energy bills, but some still choose to burn peat, coal or wood, which is bad for health, because of the toxic smoke coming from the chimneys.