Ireland must adapt to unavoidable climate change

While Ireland must continue to be involved in global efforts to curb climate change, it must also prepared and adapt to minimise the unavoidable impacts that have already begun.

This is the conclusion of a major report published by the Environmental Protection Agency this week.

A Summary of the State of Knowledge on Climate Change Impacts for Ireland brings together current knowledge on climate change and predicted impacts for Ireland.

It also highlights gaps in existing knowledge and puts forward options of how to best deal with the changes.

“Climate Change is happening in Ireland.” Said EPA director Laura Burke.

“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:

  • Temperature: Air temperature increased by 0.7C° since 1890. The increase was 0.4C° during the period 1980-2008, which is equivalent to 0.14C° per decade. Temperature is expected to rise by between 1C° to 3C° by 2100.
  • Rainfall: 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, surface water, human health, transport, energy, industry and insurance.

    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.”

    Sam Bond

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