Climate change

Ireland must invest in structural and behavioural change to enable the transition to a climate neutral, climate-resilient country. These changes include the rapid decarbonisation of energy and transport and the adoption of sustainable food production, management and consumption systems.

Take action on climate change

Climate change

Ireland must play its part in contributing to efforts to limit climate change. Ireland’s national policy position establishes a low carbon vision for Ireland by 2050. Ireland is not on track in terms of its EU Effort Sharing 2020 target. Climate Action Plan measures will need to be swiftly implemented to meet Ireland’s targets.

What's happening with climate change?

Satellite view of Ireland as Storm Ophelia approaches

Climate projections for the next century indicate changes in wind speeds and storm tracks; increased likelihood of river and coastal flooding; changes in distribution of plant and animal species and in the timing of lifecycle events of native species; water stress for crops, pressure on water supply and adverse impacts on water quality and negative impacts on human health and wellbeing.

Greenhouse gas emissions are the most significant contributor to climate change. Since the start of the industrial revolution they have increased at an unprecedented rate reaching levels that have not existed on Earth for likely millions of years.

 

What is climate change?

What causes climate change?

What impact will climate change have on Ireland?

What are Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions like?

 

 

What's being done?

International and EU climate change policy has evolved over the last five decades with leaders meeting to agree how to address the threats posed by climate change. Ireland's national climate policy and legislation have evolved and strengthened in recent years. And the EPA is at the centre of the climate debate aiming to provide the most up-to-date, accurate and authoritative scientific information.

The EPA’s role in addressing climate change challenges includes collating national greenhouse gas emissions and projections; regulating emissions from industrial sectors; supporting climate science research; supporting change in behaviour to promote a circular economy and facilitating the National Dialogue on Climate Action.

 

 

 

What is Europe and the world doing?

What is Ireland doing?

What is EPA doing?

Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions and projections

EU emissions trading system

National Dialogue on Climate Action

Climate research

Circular economy

Latest Climate Change

in: Climate change
cropped for feature feed
Research 386: Climate Status Report for Ireland 2020

Prepared by MaREI, University College Cork.

This report presents the current state of Ireland’s climate.

NIR report cover 2021
Ireland's National Inventory Submission 2021

National submission of greenhouse gas emissions Ireland

Ireland's national inventory submission for years 1990-2019 including the National Inventory Report (NIR) and common reporting format (CRF) tables and any supplementary files.

GHG projections report
Ireland's greenhouse gas emission projections 2020-2040

the latest GHG projections report for Ireland

Ireland's greenhouse gas emission projections 2020-2040

FAQs about climate change

in: Climate Change

Frequently asked questions about Climate Change

Popular FAQs

  • How is Ireland adapting to Climate Change?

    Planning for a Climate Resilient Ireland, Ireland's first statutory National Adaptation Framework (NAF) was approved in 2018. The NAF sets out the national strategy to reduce the vulnerability of the country to the negative effects of climate change and to avail of any positive impacts. The NAF was developed under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and prepared in the context of the 2013 EU strategy on adaptation to climate change.  

    The NAF builds on the work already carried out under the 2012 National Change Adaptation Framework (NCCAF). The NAF outlines a whole of government and society approach to climate adaptation in Ireland. Under the NAF a number of Government Departments are required to prepare sectoral adaptation plans in relation to a priority area that they are responsible for. Local authorities are required to prepare local adaptation strategies. The NAF will be reviewed at least once every five years. The NAF also aims to improve the enabling environment for adaptation through ongoing engagement with civil society, the private sector and the research community. 

    The 12 priority sectors and all local authorities now have climate change adaptation plans and strategies in place. These were published in 2019 and will be reviewed at least once every five years. 

    Further Information

    For more on national, sectoral and local adaptation see the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

    For more adaptation information and climate data see Ireland’s climate information platform, Climate Ireland.  

  • What impacts of climate change have been observed and what is projected?

    In 2018, the global temperature had been increased by 1.0°C relative to pre-industrial levels. At the current rate of warming, the world is expected to reach 1.5°C warming between 2030 and 2052 (IPCC, 2008).  If this continues, the 2°C increase could occur around 2060.  Globally the two main features of climate change are: 

    • changes in the rate of occurrence and scales of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves or rainfall events, and  
    • slow onset changes such as sea-level rise, loss of glaciers, and ecosystem changes. 

    For Ireland, by 2050 (mid-century) mean annual temperatures are projected to increase by between 1 and 1.2, and between 1.3 and 1.6 depending on the emissions trajectory. Heatwave events are expected to increase by mid-century and this will have a direct impact on public health and mortality. These changes may affect the life cycle (phenological) phases in many plant and animal species. By mid-century there are projected increases in both dry periods and heavy precipitation events, meaning we will have to consider increased flood risk as well as droughts. There is also the possibility that, although average wind speed may decrease, the intensity of individual storms may increase.  

    Building performance will be challenged by a changing climate, needing to cope with more extreme summer temperatures, intense rainfall events and potential changes in wind and storm patterns. This will require appropriate design and building standards, but also adaptation of existing building stock.  

    As our climate changes, it will create new conditions that may allow existing pests and diseases to spread and new threats to become established in Ireland. Our infrastructure systems are likely to be impacted by an increase in disruptive events and our water quality and supply might be affected.  

    Global mean sea level rise by 2100 is likely to be in the range of 0.29m to 1.10m (depending on the emissions scenario) and sea levels will continue to rise far beyond the year 2100.   

    Predicted changes in mean sea level will be magnified by changing storm surge and wave patterns in coastal areas. Sea level rise varies regionally but increasing sea levels around Ireland would result in increased coastal erosion, flooding and damage to property and infrastructure.  High-resolution mid-century climate projections for Ireland were published by the EPA in 2020 and are available at Climate Ireland.

     
     

  • What is the greenhouse effect?

    The greenhouse effect is the name given to the process whereby the energy which has arrived from the Sun can warm the planet to temperatures well above those which would be expected if there was no atmosphere present. A very simplified explanation of how this works is as follows:

    The Sun’s energy is either reflected back into space or passes through the atmosphere to be absorbed at the surface of the Earth. The absorbed energy warms the surface, producing thermal radiation, heating the atmosphere from below.   On its way back to space, the thermal energy is captured by certain gases in the atmosphere, and this heats the atmosphere further. These gases are called greenhouse gases. This simple explanation is illustrated in the image below.

    This figures dsiplays the greenhouse gas effect whereby radiation from the sun is trapped in the earth's atmosphere by greenhouse gases.

     Greenhouse gases (ghg), although they constitute only a small fraction of the atmosphere, their impact on climate is very important. Without greenhouse gases, the Earth’s surface would have an average temperature of -18oC, too cold for life as we know it. Instead the average temperature at the surface of the Earth is approximately +15oC.  Changing the atmospheric concentration of these greenhouse gases and other particles in the atmosphere can lead to a warming or cooling of the climate system. 

    The IPCC provides the detailed explanation of the Greenhouse Effect.

    For more information on this topic, see Chapter 2: Observations: Atmosphere and Surface, of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, Working Group 1, The Physical Science Basis (2013)

  • Is the EPA responsible for wildlife and protecting natural habitats?

    The EPA is responsible for reporting on nature conservation in its 'State of the Environment' reports.  However, responsibility for nature conservation lies with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

    The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government and is charged with the conservation of a range of habitats and species in Ireland. Some of its most important activities include:

    Designation and protection of Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) & Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and,

    Managing and developing our National Parks and Nature Reserves.

     For further information please go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website.

  • Who do I contact to report cutting/burning/destruction of hedgerows during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife?

    In Ireland, hedgerows are of exceptional importance as habitats, particularly for birds but also for wildflowers, shrubs and trees and provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife and enhance the diversity of nature in our countryside.

    Cutting, burning, or destruction of hedgerows is restricted during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife between the 1st March and the 31st August except for certain exemptions (Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Heritage Act 2018) These restrictions apply to private land-users, local authorities, public bodies and contractors.

    You can report details of unlawful cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction to the local Conservation Rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Reported instances will, as far as practicable, be investigated. Your local NPWS Office can be found through the NPWS website.

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