Climate expert to lead An Taisce

16th June 2009
Press Release

From Frank MacDonald - Irish Times June 16th.

Climate expert to lead An Taisce

FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor

IRELAND’S LEADING expert on climate change, Prof John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth, has been chosen as the new president of An Taisce in succession to botanist and broadcaster Éanna Ní Lamhna.

Scottish-born Prof Sweeney is one of the 3,000 scientist-members of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 along with former US vice-president Al Gore.

He has been a lecturer at the geography department of NUI Maynooth since 1978, specialising in climatology and environmental resource management, and currently leads a number of research projects examining various aspects of climate change in Ireland.

His most recent report for the Environmental Protection Agency, prepared by the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units at NUI Maynooth, projected that temperatures in Ireland will increase by more than two degrees by the end of the century with significant changes in rainfall.

A graduate of the University of Glasgow, where he was awarded a PhD in 1980, Prof Sweeney has taught and carried out research at universities in North America and Africa. He has also been involved in curriculum development at second and third levels.

Over the past 30 years he has published some 60 scientific papers, edited or co-authored four reports on the likely impacts of climate change here and served as a contributing author and editor of the IPCC’s influential Fourth Assessment, published in 2007.

An Taisce’s national chairman, Charles Stanley-Smith, said Prof Sweeney “brings a deep appreciation of the human and social impact that the changes will bring and indeed introduced revolutionary concepts of integrated spatial planning as part of the response”.

“Climate change will be the greatest challenge to both our natural and built heritage and to our future survival. Every issue that An Taisce will approach in future will have climate change at its core. John’s knowledge and high public profile will be invaluable to us.”

At An Taisce’s annual general meeting last Saturday, Mr Stanley- Smith paid tribute to Éanna Ní Lamhna, saying she had been a “stalwart” spokeswoman for the environmental charity, “speaking up for biodiversity and the natural and built heritage of this island.”

He noted that Ms Ní Lamhna, a panellist on RTÉ Radio 1’s Mooney Goes Wild programme, had become known to thousands of children in raising Green Flags at schools. She is to continue as a member of An Taisce.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times