Friday 31 August 2007

Gormley launches new EPA report on indicators of climate change in Ireland

A new report for the Environmental Protection Agency, launched today (29 August 2007) by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, T.D., confirms that the impacts of climate changes are already happening in Ireland and are accelerating. The report is based on meteorological records of Met Éireann.

The report, ‘Key Meteorological Indicators of Climate Change in Ireland, was prepared by researchers at the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units (ICARUS) at NUI Maynooth.

Speaking at the launch of the report, the Minister commented, “The report is further confirmation that the impacts of climate change are already happening in Ireland and are accelerating. This report confirms that annual rainfall has increased in the north and west. Not only is it raining more frequently, but the volume and intensity of rainfall is increasing. These conclusions will be self-evident to anybody who has holidayed at home this summer.” The report shows us the absolute need for the people of Ireland to play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change,” added Minister Gormley

Minister Gormley recently met the Taoiseach, during which they had a lengthy discussion about climate change-related issues, including the agenda of the cabinet sub committee and the establishment of a special climate change commission.

The cabinet sub committee on climate change which will be meeting for the first time in the coming two weeks will have a central role in formulating and implementing Government policies and initiatives in this area.

“The establishment of a special cabinet sub committee, which includes the Taoiseach, is an indication of the priority this Government is attaching to addressing climate change,” Minister Gormley said, The committee and the Government have an ambitious and challenging programme of work ahead in tackling the climate change issue, in both the shorter and longer term.

The Minister said, “I envisage that by the end of the year there will be a number of positive initiatives on reducing emissions in Ireland. These include proposals for rebalancing VRT and motor tax, the establishment of a climate change commission, and ambitious new energy efficiency targets for new homes.”

However he added that climate change is a global issue that needed to be tackled collectively by all countries.

Minister Gormley, at the request of the Taoiseach, will be traveling to the UN in New York next month to represent Ireland and address a heads of State meeting which will be discussing climate change,

The Minister noted that the report underlines the importance of the EU objective of limiting average global temperature increases to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. "Ireland has fully and consistently supported this EU objective," the Minister said. "We are on course to meet our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol" he added "and we fully support the EU position on further ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the period to 2020 and beyond".

The Minister confirmed the intention of the Government to put in place a national strategy on adaptation to address future impacts of climate change in Ireland. “This will provide the framework for integrating the predicted impacts of climate change into decision-making at national and local level. It is important that we put in place this framework as soon as possible, so that, particularly in areas such as infrastructure, planning, water services and coastal management, we do not end up making the wrong types of expensive investments in the wrong places.”

The EPA report Key Meteorological Indicators of Climate Change in Ireland updates and expands the work of an earlier report, Climate Change: Indicators for Ireland, which was published in 2002. The report is the latest in a series commissioned by the EPA’s Environmental Research Centre, and is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan.

The main findings of the present report are:

Ireland’s mean annual temperature has increased by 0.7°C between 1890 and 2004.

The average rate of increase is 0.06°C per decade. However, as Ireland experiences considerable climate variability, the trend is not linear.

The highest ten yearly rate of increase has occurred since 1980, with a warming rate of 0.42°C per decade.

Six of the ten warmest years have occurred since 1990; however, 1945 was the warmest year on record.

There has been a reduction in the number of frost days and a shortening of the frost season length.

The annual precipitation has increased on the north and west coasts, with decreases or small increases in the south and east.

The wetter conditions on the west and north coastal regions appear due to increased in rainfall intensity and persistence.

There is an increase in precipitation events over 10mm on the west coast with decreases on the east coast; there is an increase in the amount of rain per rain day on the west coast.

The report notes that it is imperative to monitor key climate variables in order to identify trends, which may be an important guide for future change. Climate indicators for Ireland are based primarily on daily synoptic (summary) weather station temperature and precipitation data from Met Éireann’s monitoring network.

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