Research 256: National Preparedness to Adapt to Climate Change: Analysis of State of Play

Author: Margaret Desmond

Summary: The goal of international and national climate adaptation policy is the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient society and economy. This new assessment interrogates in detail Ireland’s preparedness for adaptation action, with a focus on seven key areas related to the adaptation plan-making process.

Published: 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84095-786-0

Pages: 56

Filesize: 1,106KB

Format: pdf

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Identifying Pressures

The goal of international and national climate adaptation policy is the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient society and economy. This ambition is to be achieved through a combination of supports, including policy and legislation, science and technologies, governance arrangements, capacity building and behavioural change.

In order to understand preparedness for the transition to climate resilience, the international regime, led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will undertake the first global stocktake of climate actions, including adaptation, by 2023. In 2014, the European Union undertook a preliminary inventory of Member State preparedness for climate change impacts and adaptation action. Results from Ireland showed that a number of substantial advances have been made but that more effort is required if vulnerability is to be addressed and resilience built.

This and other initiatives provide a useful overview of where each Member State stands in relation to progress on implementing adaptation based on submissions to international processes. However, little internal analysis has actually been conducted to probe deeper into the information behind the headline indicators and to present more vividly the situation on the ground. This report provides a more detailed assessment of the headline indicators.

Informing Policy

Ireland is at the beginning of a long and challenging process of transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy. The role of central government is to drive and support this agenda by creating an enabling environment in support of this transition at all levels and spheres of decision making. The role of society at large is to implement adaptation in businesses, communities and homes. The key to success will be the ability to effectively link and co-ordinate these spheres of activity in a manner that is fair, efficient and timely. This needs to be supported by structures and processes that can drive this agenda.

This study found that the key components of an enabling environment for climate resilience – policy and legislation, governance arrangements and an evolving knowledge base – are in place but that barriers remain that are hampering adaptation action on the ground. The key to overcoming the barriers to adaptation and realising possible opportunities lies with the effective co-ordination of institutions, processes and stakeholders such as Local Authority Regional Climate Change Offices, the National Adaptation Framework, the National Dialogue on Climate Action and other newly emerging initiatives.

It will take imagination, innovation (social and technological) and political and societal will to bring all stakeholders on board to share in driving the agenda for a low-carbon, climate-resilient Ireland. Ireland is not the only country currently grappling with how to implement climate action at the local level and it should be actively seeking to understand what more advanced countries are doing and learn from their experiences.

Developing Solutions

This report provides Irish decision makers with a timely assessment of the enablers of and barriers to effective climate change adaptation. It will assist the development of adaptation strategies and plans at national, sectoral and local levels of decision making. It is part of the solution to the societal challenge of transitioning to a climate-resilient Ireland.