A recent article [note 1] by meteorologist Prof Ray Bates, and prominently featured in an Irish national newspaper, claimed that "increased uncertainty” in recent IPCC reports on the likely course of future climate change means that Ireland need not take steps to urgently or aggressively reduce its greenhouse gas emissions; rather, Prof. Bates argued, we should prioritise protection of our own, Irish, economic interests.

The supposed scientific basis for these arguments, has now been roundly criticised by Ireland’s leading climatologist, Professor John Sweeney (Professor Emeritus at Maynooth University, former Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit, and a full IPCC contributing author). Because these comments by Prof. Sweeney have not (as yet) been afforded a comparable platform by the original media outlet, An Taisce is pleased that Prof. Sweeney has given permission for their open publication and dissemination via the An Taisce web site [note 2].

In his critique, Prof. Sweeney states that the original article by Prof. Bates contained numerous “scientific inaccuracies” and he goes on to detail how the article appears to engage in clear “cherry picking” and systematic misrepresention of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report “to suit [Prof. Bates' own] arguments”. Prof. Sweeney affirms the unambiguous scientific consensus that far from slowing or stopping, the overall warming of the Earth is continuing, and indeed accelerating, and this is unequivocally associated with human activities. Prof. Sweeney is unambiguous in judging that it is now "absolutely valid to describe the problem of climate change as a ‘planetary emergency’”. He concludes by highlighting the need to view climate action in a context of global climate justice, and he firmly rejects narrow ‘national interest’ as a message Ireland should wish to send the world on this issue.

Commenting on this publication of Prof. Sweeney's remarks, Barry McMullin, Chair of the An Taisce Climate Committee, said:

"Honest and open discussion about the implications of climate change for Ireland, and the need for urgent and radical policy response, is long overdue. An Taisce welcomes all engagement by Irish media in that honest policy debate. However, it is essential that this discussion be grounded in the best available scientific insights, and not distorted or derailed by fringe or contrarian views. Accordingly, An Taisce is delighted today to release these important comments by Ireland's leading climate scientist, Professor John Sweeney. We believe they are a significant contribution to informing and clarifying public understanding on what is probably the most profound, and most urgent, political, economic, and ethical challenge facing Irish society in the 21st century."


For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel +353 87 2332689
email: [email protected]
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland


  1. http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/climate-action-preoccupation-with-level-of-farm-emissions-is-misguided-1.2268409#.VaJnltrnndY.twitter
  2. http://www.antaisce.org/articles/contrarian-climate-views-professor-john-sweeney-speaks-out