Ireland's Environment: Climate

Responding effectively to climate change is both urgent and long term. The 2015 Paris Agreement sets the international agenda for addressing this challenge by setting clear temperature goals. The pathways to these goals for Ireland need to be addressed nationally and by cities, businesses and communities.

Current trends

Satellite view of Ireland as Storm Ophelia approaches

The 2018 IPCC report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, reported that the global temperature had increased by 1.0°C relative to pre-industrial levels and that, at the current rate of warming, the world would reach a 1.5°C warming between 2030 and 2050. If continued, a 2°C increase could occur early in the second half of this century.

The main features of such an increase would be: increases in average temperature (surface air temperature and sea surface temperature); changes in precipitation patterns; changes in the rate of occurrence and scale of extreme weather events (such as heat waves, rainfall events, storms, sea surges and flash floods); slow-onset changes (such as sea level rise, the loss of glaciers and ecosystem changes).

Evidence of these changes is apparent around the world, as outlined in IPCC reports. Across Europe, there has been an increase of almost 2°C since the latter half of the 19th century. In general, the climate trends observed in Ireland follow the global average.

For Ireland, mid-century mean annual temperatures are projected to increase by between 1.0°C and 1.6°C depending on the emissions trajectory. Heat wave events are expected to increase and will have a direct impact on public health and mortality. These changes may affect the phenological phases in many plant and animal species. By mid-century increases in both dry periods and heavy precipitation events are predicted, meaning that we will have to consider increased flood risk and droughts risks. 

Learn more about current trends in climate change in Ireland 




Causes of climate change

Clouds over house in a blue sky

The accumulation in the atmosphere of relatively stable and inert gases that trap energy, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), are the key threats to our climate.

Over 70 per cent of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) come from three sectors: agriculture, energy production and transport.

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What's being done

Street view of the Luas red Line tram in Dublin

Systemic change is required for Ireland to become the climate-neutral and climate resilient society and economy that it aspires to be.

The National Policy Statement on climate change sets out a transition to a competitive, low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. The Government’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, published in March 2021, will support Ireland’s transition to Net Zero and achieve a climate neutral economy by no later than 2050. From 2021 annual updates will be made to the Climate Action Plan. The EPA publishes data on greenhouse gas emissions and projections in Ireland to track progress against targets. 

View data on greenhouse gas emissions and projections in Ireland 

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Outlook for climate change in Ireland

Flooded fields at the Kerry coast

Ireland’s climate is changing, making us vulnerable to weather extremes and sea-level rise. Mitigation and adaptation action is required in the face of current and projected climate change impacts. Ireland also needs to play an effective part in contributing to EU and global efforts to ensure that the global temperature increase relative to pre-industrial temperatures stays well below 2ºC. 

The next decade needs to be one of major developments and advances in Ireland’s response to climate change. We need to start implementing ambitious policies now. Full and early implementation of measures can deliver Ireland’s current and future commitments to a climate-neutral economy and climate-resilient society by 2050.

Learn more about climate change and the outlook for Ireland

Climate indicators

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