The evidence is clear: Climate change is happening – EPA

  • Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment is the first comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the state of knowledge of climate change in Ireland.
  • We are living in and experiencing a changing climate. In line with global trends, 16 of the 20 warmest years in Ireland have occurred since 1990.
  • More action is needed to meet Ireland’s legally binding emissions targets including large-scale and immediate emissions reductions across the energy system, which is currently heavily dependent (86%) on fossil fuels.
  • Ireland needs to be resilient to ongoing and future climate change impacts. Implementation of climate adaptation measures is currently too slow and fragmented.
  • Immediate and sustained transformative mitigation and adaptation actions are likely to yield substantial benefits for health, wellbeing and biodiversity in Ireland while reducing vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published Ireland’s first Climate Change Assessment Report (ICCA). This major scientific assessment serves to complement and localise the global assessments undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its findings build upon these assessments and add important local and national context.

Undertaken by leading researchers, the assessment is based on scientific research and observations in Ireland, linked to EU and global analyses. It was led by the Environmental Protection Agency funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, with additional funding by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, and the Department of Transport.

Welcoming the report Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said:

“Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment represents a major contribution to our understanding of the impacts and challenges experienced and posed by climate change in Ireland. The Assessment provides a picture of where Ireland is in its response the climate emergency. It provides insights as to the scale of the challenge for Ireland to become climate neutral and climate resilient. It reinforces the need for Ireland to pick up the pace of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to our changed and future climate.”

She added:

“If we can reach net zero global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, then many of the key  components of the climate system such as temperature and precipitation would stabilise within the lifetime of many of today’s younger citizens and to the benefit of all of society.”

Key findings

  • Human activity has resulted in widespread and rapid changes in climate which are already impacting us all today.
  • The future climate is in our collective hands. Halting warming globally, and in Ireland, requires rapidly reaching at least net-zero carbon dioxide emissions and substantially cutting other greenhouse gas emissions. Every action matters: with every additional increment of warming, impacts for Ireland will increase substantially.
  • Having peaked in 2001, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have reduced in all sectors except agriculture. However, Ireland currently emits more greenhouse gases per person than the EU average. A legal basis for deep, rapid and sustained national emissions cuts now exists, although current policy and action remain insufficient to meet these aims. The pathway forward is clearer for energy, transport and the built environment than for agriculture and land use. For all sectors there are many challenges to overcome.
  • Ireland needs to be resilient to ongoing and future climate change impacts. This requires increased focus upon and investment in adaptation that can protect us from future climatic impacts. Current implementation of adaptation is too slow and fragmented. Doing better requires financing, working with people and nature, monitoring and evaluating outcomes, and increasing public and private sector involvement.
  • Effective and just transformative actions will have mitigation and adaptation benefits and bring broader benefits for health, wellbeing, nature and sustainable economic development. The state has a central role to play in enabling the necessary transformations, supported through action across society. Decisions taken this decade will reverberate for generations to come.

Commenting on the assessment, Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager said:

“Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment is a major resource for policymakers, practitioners, researchers, research funders and the public. It points to how and where the science can be improved through further investments in innovation, in research and in systematic observations. The EPA, with partners, will continue to focus on addressing these knowledge gaps to inform and support effective climate action.”

Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment Report is available on the EPA website.

Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment

Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment (ICCA) provides, for the first time, a comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the state of knowledge around all key aspects of climate change, with a central focus on Ireland.

The report provides an assessment of our understanding of climate change, tying together all available lines of evidence to provide actionable information. This is based on scientific research and systematic observations in Ireland, linked to EU and global analysis. ICCA aims to provide summary information that can inform decision-making on climate actions. The close-off date for material to be incorporated within the assessment was as follows: Volume 1 – December 2022, Volume 2 – December 2022, Volume 3 – March 2023, Volume 4 – March 2023.

Report Structure

The approach used to provide ICCA is based on that used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is provided in a linked series of four volumes. Each volume contains a short Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The first three Volumes build on and use information provided by the IPCC in its three Working Group reports. Volume 4 differs from this as there is not an equivalent IPCC report. The Synthesis Report combines and integrates information contained in the underlying volumes.

The evidence is clear: Climate change is happening - EPA

·         Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment: Synthesis Report

Authors: Peter Thorne, Jean Boucher, Brian Caulfield, Hannah Daly, Paul Deane, Danielle Gallagher, Liam Heaphy, Deirdre McClean, Shane McDonagh, Jennifer McElwain, Connor McGookin, Abhay Menon, Róisín Moriarty, Conor Murphy, Paul Nolan, Clare Noone, Enda O’Brien, Brian Ó Gallachóir, Tadhg O’Mahony, Tim O’Riordan, Tara Quinn, Agnieszka Stefaniec and Diarmuid Torney.

The Synthesis Report acts as a concise summary of the most important science on climate change presented in the underlying volumes. Selected findings that are deemed of the highest policy and societal relevance from each underlying volume are integrated into the report. The synthesis report highlights the underlying volumes details, where the interested reader can discover further information.

·         Volume 1 – Science: Ireland in a changing world

Authors: Prof. Peter Thorne, Maynooth University; Prof. Jennifer Mc Elwain, TCD; Dr. Clare Noone, Maynooth University; Dr. Deirdre McClean, Edinburgh University / TCD; Dr. Danielle Gallagher, TCD.

Volume 1 assesses observed and projected changes in climate for Ireland in the context of a rapidly changing global climate.

  • Volume 2 – Achieving climate neutrality by 2050

Authors Prof. Brian O’Gallachoir, UCC; Prof. Paul Deane, UCC; Dr. Shane McDonagh, UCC; Dr. Connor McGookin, UCC; Dr. Abhay Menon, UCC.

Volume 2 Introduces the current best understanding of how to mitigate climate change with a central focus on Irish literature seeking to inform the pathway to a climate neutral Ireland.

·         Volume 3 – Being prepared for Ireland’s future climate

Authors:  Prof. Conor Murphy, Maynooth University; Dr. Paul Nolan, ICHEC-UoG; Dr. Tara Quinn, Maynooth University; Dr. Liam Heaphy, UoG; Dr. Enda O’Brien, UoG.

Volume 3 provides a synthesis of research on climate change impacts and progress on adaptation in Ireland. Volume 3 builds on the fundamental science basis covered in Volume 1, including the co-benefits and synergies with carbon neutrality measures addressed in Volume 2. And concepts such as transformative adaptation and just transitions further explored in Volume 4.

·         Volume 4 – Realising the benefits of transition and transformation

Authors: Dr. Róisín Moriarty UCC; Dr. Tadhg O’Mahony, DCU; Dr. Agnieszka Stefaniec, TCD; Dr. Jean L. Boucher, DCU; Prof. Brian Caulfield, TCD; Prof. Hannah Daly, UCC; Dr. Diarmuid Torney, DCU.

Volume 4  provides an assessment of the national literature on the transition and transformation to a climate-neutral, climate resilient, and sustainable future. The volume serves to highlight the benefits, opportunities and synergies that are associated with transformations, and how they can be achieved.

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