An Taisce welcome the drafting of this climate change Adaptation Plan, given the urgent need to reverse the alarming trend of both global and national biodiversity loss. However, we would like to highlight what we view to be shortcomings in the draft plan.

Urgency of the plan

Climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked. Terrestrial and marine ecosystems currently absorb roughly half of man-made carbon emissions. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are essential to mitigate against climate change, yet climate change is irrevocably damaging those same systems and species. The protection of our biodiversity is a cost effective way and logical way to mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

Failure to protect our biodiversity and the further decent in to the ongoing mass extinction will inevitably lead to an ecological tipping point, whereby our natural systems will no longer function as a mitigant for climate change, and we will have lost our main means of combating our rising carbon levels.

Time is against us, and it would appear to An Tasice that the draft Adaptation Plan lacks a sense of urgency. Many of the actions refer to collecting further information, conducting research and carrying out monitoring. While these are all valid, similar to what An Taisce highlighted in our submission on the most recent NBAP plan, many of the critical threats are well known, and tackling these should be urgently prioritised over other measures.

As outlined in the Stern (2006) report:
No-one can predict the consequences of climate change with complete certainty; but we now know enough to understand the risks.’
Delay makes the problem much more difficult and action to deal with it much more costly.’

There will already be an extensive lag time in implementing adaptation action before biodiversity responds, and according to the IPCC (2018) report we have less than 12 years to take dramatic action. Existing conservation efforts are entirely insufficient, as evidenced by the Article 17 report from 2013, and the imminent 2019 Article 17 report which An Taisce is given to believe does not present an improved status. While we do need to continue researching climate change, and adapting, there are measures which we know could reverse biodiversity loss, and they could be implemented immediately, given enough political will and resources. There is a need to act now with greater vigour.

unsplash-logoKevin Bosc