I understand from the Deputy’s question that “the issues identified by climatologists” are those referring to the impacts of climate change. This week’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C confirms that impacts due to past and current emissions are inevitable and we must prepare for them. The report states that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.
The impacts for Ireland are in line what we are seeing globally. In 2017 the EPA published its second “State of Knowledge” report on climate change impacts for Ireland. While uncertainties remain on the exact scale of the impacts, it is becoming apparent that trends in the temperature and precipitation records as well as those relating to sea level and ecosystems are a cause for concern and that these trends are set to continue.
In January of this year I published Ireland’s first statutory National Adaptation Framework (NAF) which represents our national policy response to the challenges posed by the impacts of climate change. The Framework sets out the context to ensure local authorities, regions and sectors can assess the key risks and vulnerabilities of climate change, implement climate resilience actions, and ensure climate adaptation considerations are mainstreamed into all local, regional and national policy making.
Under the Framework, seven Government Departments with responsibility for twelve priority sectors are required to prepare sectoral adaptation plans in line with the requirements of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. The deadline for the submission of sectoral adaptation plans to Government for approval is 30 September 2019.
Local understanding is also crucial to getting adaptation right and my Department has made a funding commitment of €10 million over five years to establish four local authority Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs). These offices will underpin a risk-based approach to climate action at the local and regional level and will provide a coordinated response to climate change, both in terms of adaptation and mitigation. Local authorities are also required to have local authority adaptation strategies in place by 30 September next year. To assist these key sectors with their respective planning processes I published “Sectoral Planning Guidelines for Climate Change Adaptation” in May of this year and later this year I intend to publish revised climate adaptation planning guidance for local authorities.
Adaptation planning is an iterative process, with the National Adaptation Framework to be reviewed at least once every five years in line with the 2015 Climate Act. This will ensure that we adopt a dynamic approach to adaptation planning which is informed by the latest scientific evidence thus enabling Departments, Agencies and local authorities to modify or escalate adaptation actions as appropriate as climate projections are updated.