New research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points to indisputable evidence of the impact of climate change on Ireland to date. Launched at EPA Seminar on Climate Change Research on December 7, the report warns that the predicted changes to our climate are set to result in wide-ranging economic and societal impacts. The challenge is to provide decision makers at all levels and the general public with high quality information to make informed decisions on policy development and investments that will be resilient to the impacts of climate change. These challenges mean opportunity for sustainability practitioners.
The EPA’s research indicates that Ireland has already seen an increase in mean annual temperatures of 0.8°C since 1900, with an increase of 1–1.6°C projected by mid-century. The largest increases are set to occur in the east of the country, the report states. The higher end of this predicted rise will go beyond the long-term goal set by the Paris Agreement of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Average annual rainfall has also increased by 60 mm between 1981– 2010, according to the report. This is five per cent more than the average recorded in the previous 30 year period between 1961 and 1990. In general, larger increases in rainfall have been recorded in the west where farmers have been hit hard by the recent fodder crisis as wet weather conditions leave farmers facing a hay shortage for livestock feed. Significant changes in seasonal rainfall patterns by mid-century will also likely lead to drier summer conditions, while flooding is expected to increase in both the winter and spring. Data analyzed by the EPA shows that there has been sea level rise of about 3.5 cm per decade since the early 1990s, consistent with expected acceleration due to climate change.
On Wednesday, December 6, the Irish Government’s Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) said that the pace and scale of emissions reductions must be accelerated across all sectors to have any chance of achieving our long-term objective of reducing emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.
The Irish wake- up call
European Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, Phil Hogan issued a stark warning that Ireland will face massive fines unless it improves its environmental performance. Speaking at the Department of Agriculture’s Food Wise conference in Dublin, Hogan said Ireland needs to ‘wake up and wake up soon’ to the reality that it is part of a European Union that has assumed the role of global leader in tackling climate challenges. “The day is gone when we can pay lip service to sustainability and climate action,” he warned. Hogan said there is a gulf between Ireland’s ‘welcome rhetoric and the operational reality’ citing that Ireland is one of only four countries in the EU where greenhouse gas emissions are still above 1990 levels.
Identifying Challenges and Pressures
Changes in Ireland’s climate are in-line with and similar to relevant global trends. Climate change will have diverse and wide ranging impacts on our environment, society, economic sectors and natural resources. The challenge is to provide decision makers at all levels and the general public with high quality information to make informed decisions on policy development and investments that will be resilient to the impacts of climate change.
These challenges mean opportunity for sustainability practitioners. Companies and government alike recognize these are all inter-related. Whether you are a program manager, an engineer, an accountant, you work in construction or retail, there is a good reason to understand the complexity of sustainability.
CSE’s next presentation of the Global Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program will be held in London, on March 1-2, 2018 and will provide all the latest updates and key concepts regarding trends and legislation on corporate sustainability, SDG’s, carbon emissions, GRI reporting guidelines, ways to measure the stakeholder engagement, case studies and best practices.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), 2017, A Summary of the State of Knowledge on Climate Change Impacts for Ireland, Report No. 223
European Commission, Phil Hogan, Announcements Speech at Foodwise 2025 Conference, Croke Park Dublin – 4th December 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/2014-2019/hogan/announcements/speech-foodwise-2025-conference-croke-park-dublin-4th-december-2017_en (Accessed: 8 November 2017)
Climate Change Advisory Council, Annual Review 2017, Tuesday 5th December, http://www.climatecouncil.ie/media/ClimateChangeAdvCouncil_AnnualReview2017FINAL.pdf (Accessed: 8 November 2017)