The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world’s most authoritative climate science body and today’s report is a stark reminder, to us all, of the need to act to avoid the most damaging and catastrophic effects of climate change.
This report – Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability – details the impacts of climate change. It warns how the climate crisis will influence our ecosystems and biodiversity, and how it will affect people’s lives – not just overseas but here in Ireland. Human-induced climate change, including more frequent extreme events, has already caused widespread impacts. It has exposed millions to acute food insecurity and reduced water security.
The report confirms that climate impacts are now an irreversible reality for every country. While adaptation efforts to date have reduced some climate vulnerabilities, limits are already beginning to be reached. The most extreme impacts can still be avoided through enhanced adaptation and mitigation efforts. There is still time but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing, unless there are deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.
While the impact of climate change is universal and no country is immune to its effects, most often it is the most vulnerable, who have contributed least to the problem, who continue to suffer the most. Supports must be scaled up for those who are most exposed to these extremes. Ireland’s international climate finance continues to champion the needs of the most climate-vulnerable people, prioritising support for adaptation to climate change. At COP26, Ireland committed to providing €225 million per year of climate finance to developing countries by 2025.
My Department is providing €3 million for a specific Trust Fund, established through the Asian Development Bank, to support Small Island Development States in responding to the effects of climate change. We have also contributed €2 million to the International Fund for Agriculture Development’s Enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme – designed to increase the climate resilience of vulnerable people, particularly women and young people. Ireland has committed at least €10 million to the Adaptation Fund between 2021 and 2022, and €5 million to the Santiago Network (€4m from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and €1m from Irish Aid). The Santiago Network was established to provide technical assistance to support developing countries experiencing climate-related loss and damage.
This report makes clear that enhanced adaptation, together with improved ecosystem protection and management, can reduce risks from climate change to biodiversity and people everywhere. However, it is also clear that transformative measures are needed to meet the challenges.
Climate Action Plan 2021
Climate Action Plan 2021 sets out our response – as a country – to the climate crisis. This plan is transformative. It details what we must do to meet this challenge and our national climate objectives – to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The plan includes numerous adaptation measures, including actions addressing flooding, built environment, transport and energy and communications networks in Ireland. These actions are mainstreamed into the appropriate sectoral chapters of the plan. In addition, my Department has commenced a review of the National Adaptation Framework. The results of this review will be reported to me by the end of September [of this year].
Work in this area is ongoing at pace. The carbon budget programme was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday of last week. Work will progress to set sectoral emissions ceilings – determining how each sector of the economy will contribute to our wider goals.
Today’s report clearly reinforces the message that the time to act is now. This Government is doing so; through the Climate Action Plan we are empowering every citizen, every business and every community to make the just transition – to a safe, healthy and sustainable future for our children and for future generations.