High-tech climate change centre planned for Powerscourt estate

Cool Planet Experience, due to open in 2017, has backing of several top Irish companies

Artist’s impression of the dripping glacier at the Cool Planet Experience, which is due to open at the Powerscourt Estate in early 2017. Picture: Martello Media

Artist’s impression of the dripping glacier at the Cool Planet Experience, which is due to open at the Powerscourt Estate in early 2017. Picture: Martello Media

 

Dripping glaciers, extreme weather rooms and trees with pulsating hearts are among some of the high-tech exhibits planned for a climate change centre at Powerscourt estate in Co Wicklow.

The Cool Planet Experience gives a glimpse into what the planet will look like in 50 years’ time if we continue burning fossil fuels and clearing rainforests at the current rate.

It is being modelled on London’s Science Museum and Belfast’s W5, albeit on a smaller scale and with a climate focus.

The centre, which aims to open in early 2017, is the brainchild of Norman Crowley, serial entrepreneur and founder of energy firm Crowley Carbon.

“Since the beginning of this century, the world has recorded 15 of the hottest years in terms of global temperatures. It is now clear that climate change is the biggest threat to our children,” said Mr Crowley. One of the main goals is to educate children on this, he said.

As well as Crowley Carbon, the centre has the financial backing of some of Ireland’s leading companies, including NTR, Vodafone and Calor.

It will be in a two-story building beside the Powerscourt Gardens and the Avoca store and restaurant, which receive nearly 500,000 visitors a year.

Cool Planet curators hope to drum up a footfall of close to 45,000 in their first year.

They have employed Dublin-based Martello Media, the firm behind the GPO’s 1916 exhibition, to develop a series of high-spec exhibits and interactive games to give visitors an “experiential journey” through climate change.

“Visitors will get to feel different extremes of weather from severe drought to the howling winds and raging waters and hear the stories of those affected directly,” they said.

The Slazenger family, which owns and runs the Powerscourt estate, are understood to be strongly supportive.

“This is one of the most exciting ideas we have seen in relation to educating the public on climate change and the action that’s required,” NTR boss Rosheen McGuckian said.

A landmark deal to tackle climate change was agreed by 195 countries at UN talks in Paris last year. It commits the EU to cutting its own greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030.

The respective cuts applied to each member state have yet to be decided. Ireland is known to be lobbying hard to have its relatively large agricultural sector, the chief generator of carbon emissions here, taken into account.