EPA welcomes entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol

Date released: Feb 15 2005

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) welcomes entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.  “The reality of climate change is clear from the fact that average temperature has risen by 0.9 oC in Europe over the past century, and sea levels have been rising at an annual rate of up to 2 mm per annum” said the EPA’s Director General, Dr. Mary Kelly.   “International research has shown that the global trends cannot be explained by natural climate variability alone.  Factors such as the build up of atmospheric greenhouse gases are contributing to the observed changes and extreme events seen in recent years.  Kyoto marks the first step in facing up to this reality”.

Although Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have reduced, they are still about 25% above 1990 levels.  This continues to be a major challenge if Ireland is to achieve our Kyoto target for the 2008 – 2012 period, of not more than 13% above 1990 levels. 

“The EPA will continue to play a key role in Ireland’s effort by quantifying Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, funding relevant research projects and operating the national carbon emissions trading scheme” said Dr. Kelly.   “In order for Ireland to achieve our Kyoto commitments other measures will be required by key sectors, such as transport.  In addition, the physical threats posed by sea level rise and extreme weather events, such as storms, flooding and droughts, will require improved predictive capacity and the climate-proofing of future development plans and programmes.”

Additional information

Some of the climate change signals already observed in Ireland include:

  • an increase of winter maximum and minimum temperatures;
  • a reduction in the number of frost days;
  • an increase in the number of hot days;
  • a significant rainfall increase in the North and West; and
  • a lengthening of the growing season.

Even if there are significant global emission reductions over the coming decades the climate system will continue to change.  EPA has published research that predicts Ireland will be wetter but milder for the coming decades. EPA research reports indicate:

  • Predictions for rainfall are dramatic - winter increases of 10% are suggested, contrasting with major reductions in summer of up to 40% for parts of the south and east coasts. 
  • Increases in winter temperatures of 1.5oC will occur by mid century, resulting in winters in the northern half of Ireland becoming similar to those presently experienced along the south coast.
  • Summers will warm by up to 2oC with areas in the central Midlands experiencing typical summer day temperatures of up to 24.5oC.

In the coming weeks the EPA will publish a detailed report on air quality and air emissions in Ireland, which will provide greater detail on recent trends.