Climate Threat is Dangerously Underestimated in Draft National Risk Assessment - An Taisce

19th July 2016
Press Release

An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland, finds fault with the Draft National Risk Assessment for dangerously underestimating the threats resulting from Climate Change and urges the Government to upgrade greenhouse gas emissions to a top-priority risk.

An Taisce is criticising the Government for severe and dangerous underestimation of climate change risk in the Draft National Risk Assessment. In contrast to the recent 2000 page report [Note 1] prepared by the UK Committee on Climate Change for the British government, the draft National Risk Assessment [Note 2] for Ireland afforded Climate Change a mere 4 paragraphs, with the final paragraph on compliance costs of reaching targets. This approach is defeatist, ignores current scientific understanding and misinforms policy-makers, politicians and the public. An Taisce insists that the final National Risk Assessment reflects the urgency of the risk.

In contrast, the UK climate change risk assessment, launched last Tuesday, was the culmination of over three years work by 80 experts and many more reviewers [Note 3]. It identifies the top six areas of interrelated risks for the UK:

  1. Flooding and sea rise damage to households, businesses and infrastructure
  2. Risks to health, wellbeing and productivity from heat stress
  3. Risk of shortages in the public water supply, and for agriculture, energy generation and industry
  4. Risks to natural capital/environment including terrestrial and marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Ecosystem services they provide such as storm defence, flood control, temperature regulation, CO₂ sequestration etc.
  5. Risks to domestic and international food production and trade.
  6. New and emerging pests and diseases, and invasive non-native species, affecting people, plants and animals

Ian Lumley, An Taisce’s Heritage Officer, stated:

“This [UK] report is substantially applicable to Ireland and shows up the poor consideration of climate risk in successive Irish National Risk Assessments.” He continued: “it also shows up the failure of Food Harvest 2020 and Foodwise 2025 to assess climate risks to increased food production in Ireland.”

An Taisce calls for Climate Change to be upgraded to a top-priority risk in the National Risk Assessment in its comments on the Draft National Risk Assessment. An Taisce’s comments on the Draft National Risk Assessment were submitted just three days before the publication of the UK report.

An Taisce’s comments on the Draft NRA [Note 4] included:

“As climate change is a threat-multiplier in all policy areas, so continued greenhouse gas emissions should be upgraded to a top-priority risk in the National Risk Assessment. In fact, climate change is a superordinate threat which is unique, unprecedented, and implies impacts of a magnitude that exceed all other risks.”

An Taisce notes the risks that are expected to arise due to exacerbated greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, include:

  • Extreme weather events leading to involuntary migration
  • Food insecurity risks
  • Detrimental energy system changes
  • Wrongful land use, such as being wrongly reliant on unsustainable forestry
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Increased economic risk

Upgrading climate change risks in the NRA will help to create a resilient, fair and prosperous society that contributes to global climate stability and food security.

An Taisce recommends that in order to upgrade the risk of climate change, the NRA must:

  • prioritise climate change as a top-priority risk, given its high impact status as a threat-multiplier
  • address climate change urgently, comprehensively and decisively, this will help to reduce a number of other significant risks facing Ireland
  • incorporate uncertainty assessment, as well as risk assessment, as uncertainty should lead to a greater impetus for action
  • ensure that awareness of the risks and uncertainties are widely understood as a context for low-regret decision-making

ENDS

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Notes

  1. UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Synthesis Report https://www.theccc.org.uk/uk-climate-change-risk-assessment-2017/synthesis-report/
  2. Draft National Risk Assessment 2016 – Overview of Strategic Risks http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Publications/Publications_2016/Draft_National_Risk_Assessment_2016_%E2%80%93_Overview_of_Strategic_Risks.html
  3. UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report - Key messages from the Synthesis Report https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/CCRA-Synthesis-Report-Key-Messages-fact-sheet-1.pdf
  4. An Taisce's submission on the Draft National Risk Assessment http://www.antaisce.org/articles/an-taisce-submission-on-national-risk-assessment
  5. Guardian article 12/07/2016 : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/12/uk-poorly-prepared-for-climate-change-impacts-government-advisers-warn

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.