EPA report states Ireland must adapt to impacts of Climate Change

Date released: Oct 29 2009

The EPA report A Summary of the State of Knowledge on Climate Change Impacts for Ireland  was released today.  This report is an assessment of the current knowledge on climate change, and expected impacts for Ireland. It provides a high level assessment of possible impacts for key economic and social sectors in Ireland and identifies a number of adaptation options and gaps in knowledge.

Speaking at the launch, Laura Burke, EPA Director of the Office of Climate, Licensing and Resource Use, said,

“Climate Change is happening in Ireland.” She continued, “This report sets out the likely impacts of temperature rises, wetter winters and warmer seas on areas as diverse as agriculture, fishing, disease control and infrastructural networks (roads, electricity and telecommunications).  We need to adapt to climate change and to ensure that adaptation actions are environmentally and economically sustainable.”

Changes identified in the report include:

  • Air temperature: Air temperature increased by 0.7oC since 1890. The increase was 0.4oC during the period 1980-2008, which is equivalent to 0.14oC per decade.  Temperature is expected to rise by between 1oC to 3oC by 2100. 
  • Precipitation: There has been a significant increase in total rainfall in the North and West. Many stations also show increases in March and October.
    Projected changes include wetter winters in the West and drier summers in the Southeast.
  • Extreme weather: There has been an observed decrease in the frequency of storms, whilst their intensity has increased. 
  • Adaptation planning and actions:  These actions will be required to avoid the adverse impacts of climate change and to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.

The report outlines how these changes may impact key sectors such as:

  • agriculture, biodiversity, forest and peatlands;
  • surface water, coastal and marine resources;
  • settlement and society, human health and tourism and
  • transport and communications, energy, industry and insurance.

The impacts for these sectors will vary in both their nature and extent. Greater understanding of these is needed in many areas so that appropriate adaptation options can be identified.  This report brings together key information and provides a strategic overview for policy-makers, planners and other stakeholders interested in or working on adaptation.

The report shows where gaps exist in information, where further work is needed to reduce uncertainties or where uncertainties need to be factored into planning and investment choices.   Key areas of further work include vulnerability analysis to climate change; adaptive capacity; adaptation options and opportunities; costs; information provision and capacity building.

Frank McGovern, Senior Manager with the EPA said:

“Continued funding for climate change research is required to advance our understanding of the issues, challenges and solutions.  Strategic investment in such research can provide the necessary scientific understanding which is required to inform efficient and cost effective actions on climate change across government and for wider decision-making and planning.”

The report A Summary of the State of Knowledge on Climate Change Impacts for Ireland was prepared under the EPA’s Climate Change Research Programme. The information is largely based on work carried out by Met Éireann, NUI Maynooth and the Marine Institute, as well as material from the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). 
Copies are available on the EPA website at http://www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/research/climate/ or from the EPA publications Office on 01-2680100.

Further information: Niamh Leahy, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)

Notes for the Editor:
This report has been produced under the Climate Change Research Programme, which is coordinated by the EPA. The aim of the programme is to advance understanding of climate change issues and solutions, and particularly to inform policy makers and decision makers on options for actions on climate change issues.

The Climate Change Research Programme (CCRP) commenced in 2007 based on funding from the Interdepartmental Committee on Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (IDC SSTI). 

The programme is advanced through funded research across three key thematic areas:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks;
  2. Climate change impacts and Adaptation and
  3. Technologies and socio-economic solutions.

The programme is coordinated across a range of state agencies and government departments. 

The report is largely based on an amalgamation of research carried out by a range of state agencies and government bodies.  These include: Met Eireann, Office of Public Works, Marine Institute, COFORD and Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.
An expert workshop on climate change, hosted by Met Éireann, contributed to the assessment of this material, which has also been reviewed by sectoral experts.