National Adaptation Plan highlights the Climate Change Risks to Ireland

19th January 2018
Press Release

The government’s newly published National Adaptation Framework (NAF) makes a good job of setting out the science of climate change and the scale of the challenges facing Ireland in the coming decades, and An Taisce welcomes its publication today by Denis Naughten TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

In his introductory message, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar refers to the 2017 National Mitigation Plan (NMP) and states that: “no matter how successful these mitigation efforts prove to be, it is very likely that Ireland will still face substantial impacts of climate change due to past emissions”. John Gibbons, An Taisce's Climate Disruption Spokesperson stated "Regrettably, what the NMP [Note 1] in fact represented was a target-free fudge that is little more than a capitulation to special interest pressure groups. However well intended and however well funded, measures to adapt to climate change will certainly be futile unless the dangerous levels of emissions that are fuelling climate change are also tackled earnestly and urgently".

Ireland produces, per capita, the third highest emissions in the European Union [Note 2]. We are set to miss our binding 2020 emissions reductions targets by a very wide margin, exposing the Irish taxpayer to massive financial penalties in the coming decade. This failure to meet our commitments undermines EU solidarity in taking actions commensurate with the extraordinary threats posed by climate change and reduces our own ability to fund both mitigation and adaptation.

The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index [Note 3] recently ranked Ireland as the worst performing country in Europe in terms of taking concrete action to tackle climate change. The report, issued by Germanwatch and the New Climate Institute, ranks Ireland in 49th place - a drop of 28 places from 2016 - out 56 countries reviewed in the Index.

An Taoiseach was right to tell the European Parliament this week that he is “not proud” of Ireland’s role as a “climate laggard”, a position that does significant damage to our international reputation.

John Gibbons, An Taisce's Climate Spokesperson stated "An Taisce calls for an urgent reworking of the NMP so that it can begin to address the woeful performance of our transport and agriculture sectors in particular, and ensure that these sectors directly bear the brunt of the any related financial penalties in the coming years: it is right and proper that the 'polluter must pay'. Fly-tipping of greenhouse gases is every bit as repugnant as that of more visible waste, and no drones are necessary to identify those responsible."

Today’s NAF suggests that Ireland plans to focus on taking local adaptation measures in an attempt to shore ourselves up against the direct impacts of climate change rather than fully living up to our binding Paris Agreement targets on emissions reductions. This would mean that Ireland hopes to free-ride on the mitigation efforts of others.

Ireland will therefore continue to directly fuel the global climate crisis by failing to rein in our extremely high levels of emissions, and, in doing so, will also indirectly undermine already brittle international climate solidarity. “As a policy, this is politically suspect, scientifically bogus and morally bankrupt”, according to John Gibbons.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Notes

  1. http://www.antaisce.org/articles/national-mitigation-plan-no-ambition-no-targets-no-success
  2. http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/irelands-co2-emissions-third-highest-in-eu-431895.html
  3. https://germanwatch.org/en/14639

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.