Climate Change


Climate Action Plan infograhic

Click image to view Climate Action Plan infographic

Climate Change is presenting our generation with an unprecedented challenge.

Our activities are changing the world’s climate and unless we individually and collectively take action, it is accepted that there will be dramatic consequences for us all.

On the 17th June 2019, the Irish government announced an ambitious but realistic Climate Action Plan Open link icon blue aimed at ‘tackling climate breakdown’. This plan highlights that the window of opportunity to take effective climate action is fast closing and that as a country, we are way off course. The aim ‘is to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate disruption’ and a core part of this Climate Action Plan is to ensure that we generate 70% of our electricity from renewables by 2030.


Silver car in flooding

Climate Change facts are scary, but this is not scaremongering – these are simply the facts.

For 20 years scientists have warned us of global warming and how it would affect our climate. When 20 years ago the scientific community warned us that we would experience extreme snow, flooding, droughts and storms all in the one year, few people took the threat seriously. Yet we have seen that their computer modelling has been proven correct. It is now clear that we need to listen to what climate science is telling us.

Scientists agree that if action is taken now to limit the rate of increase in global temperatures the worst of the effects can still be avoided.

Temperature records have shown that 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred since the year 2000. To argue about this is to argue with a thermometer – These are the recorded facts and they stand for themselves. The last 5 years form the top 5 of the hottest years on record.

Extreme weather events are occurring on a regular basis now and this is projected not only to continue but to get significantly worse. We cannot stop climate change, but we can and must take action to limit global warming in order to avoid the worst effects that climate change can bring.


The European Union has previously stated that “Global warming has to be limited to below 2°C compared to the average temperature in pre-industrial times to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change and possibly catastrophic changes in the global environment.” With updated information provided by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – This ambition is now to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C!


What this means is that the world must stop the growth in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and reduce them by 60% by 2050 compared with 2010.

The latest scientific evidence suggests that, if little or no action is taken to reduce global emissions, by the end of this century global warming is likely to exceed the 2°C target and could be as much as 5°C. This would have unprecedented consequences for society on all levels.

195 countries around the world have accepted these facts and the need for urgent action. The realisation is also becoming more apparent that governments alone will not solve the climate crisis that we face. As individuals and as communities, we will all have to play our part.


Climate Change and Ireland

Buildings in flooded areaOn the 9th of May this year, Ireland declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency. We have all seen the effects of climate change and we have seen the decrease in the numbers of bees and other insects.

Young people across Ireland and Europe are also realising that their future quality of life is in the balance. There is a growing understanding that governments alone will not solve this problem and that we cannot bury our heads in the sand. To do this would be to steal an inherent right from our young people – the right to live in a sustainable world.

Ireland will not be immune to the effects of climate change and as an Island, on the edge of the Atlantic, it is forecasted that we will suffer more extreme weather events on a more frequent basis. Essentially, global warming is leading to warmer sea temperatures and a decrease in the strength of the Gulf Stream (an ocean current that passes by the west coast of Ireland). What we have recently started seeing is these factors combining and resulting in extreme weather events. With global temperatures increasing, the energy in the atmosphere will also increase which will lead to a significant change in our climate.

Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019 Open link icon blue outlines the need for Ireland to embrace climate action and to adopt a collective and individual willingness to ‘tackle climate breakdown’. A fundamental part of this plan is to generate 70% of our electricity from renewables by 2030 and it is accepted that further development of onshore wind energy will be required in order to achieve these targets.

There is no doubt remaining that Climate Change is a very real and immediate threat to our way of life. Climate change, which comes as a result of global warming has the potential to have massive and permanent ramifications for our climate and way of life.


Extreme Weather in recent times

  • April ’19                      – Storm Hannah – Red wind warnings in Clare and Kerry
  • April ’19                      – 20oC temperatures in mid-April
  • Sept’ 18                       – Storm Ali led to 2 fatalities in Ireland
  • June ’18                      – Severe drought conditions and 40-year temperature highs.
  • March ’18                   – The Beast from the East – Blizzard Conditions and snow drifts.
  • October ’17                – Storm Ophelia caused extensive damage across the country.

Other recent weather events include:

-> Prolonged repressed temperatures leading to the fodder crisis for farmers across the country.

-> Severe Atlantic storms leading to extensive coastal damage all along the western seaboard.


Climate Action Recommendations

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

When the 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was asked to tell them what action was needed for the world to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and what might happen if the world would fail to do so.

Science has now given us the answer and it is a clear one:

The Special Report confirms that limiting climate change to 1.5°C is necessary to avoid the worst impacts and reduce the likelihood of extreme weather events. It demonstrates that human-induced global warming has already reached 1°C above preindustrial levels and is increasing at approximately 0.2°C per decade. The impacts of global warming are already transforming our environment and trend changes have been detected in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

The IPCC Special Report

The European Commission on Climate Change


Global warming is not even!

Click image to view

The average temperature rise in the last 100 years is estimated at approximately 1oC however, the temperature in the artic has risen by an estimated by almost 3oC. This is not just a problem for the polar bears – It is causing a significant impact on our weather.

It is estimated that the artic could be ice-free by the summer of 2040 according to the IPCC. The effects of this will include:

  • Higher sea levels – With vast amounts of additional water in our seas
  • Faster global warming – As the white ice sheet currently reflects the suns energy
  • More severe weather events – The sea surface temperatures influence the weather we experience in Ireland. Warmer seas and higher sea levels will lead to more frequent extreme weather events and with Ireland situated on the edge of the Atlantic, this is not good news for us regardless of where we are in the country!

According to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the volume of Arctic sea ice present in the month of September has declined by 75 percent since 1979 and Arctic winter sea ice maximums in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 were at record low levels.



Addressing Climate Change

This affects us all. Each one of us has a responsibility to look at what role we can play in protecting our environment for future generations. We all need to look at not only how we use energy in our homes and daily lives but also where this energy comes from.

Where there are opportunities available for our communities to explore the potential development of renewable energy projects we need to assess these on their merits so that suitable and appropriate projects can be identified and developed which not only provide green energy but which also promote positive climate action through bringing benefits to the people who are living in those local areas.

If your local area has a location suitable for the consideration of a renewable energy project then please find out more about how an appropriate the proposal could be brought forward. Your input can shape the proposals being brought forward and ensure that the project is designed appropriately and delivers benefits for your local area.

If your area does not have any areas that would warrant consideration for a renewable energy proposal, this does not mean that you cannot still play a part in making your community more sustainable. Effective climate action is going to require normal everyday people to act and lead the way in protecting our environment and society for this and future generations.



Fossil Fuels and the Future Energy Challenge

Our dependency on imported energy also stands as a fact that there is no denying. In 2017 Ireland imported 66% of its energy from abroad. With changing political climates and fossil fuel resources worldwide decreasing, it would not be wise for us as a country to continue to rely on imported energy to this degree.

Imported energy is predominantly in the form of fossil fuels which are not only polluting and adding to the climate change challenge, they are also finite!

Our fossil fuel resources are limited to peat (which we have generated electricity from) and gas. As an island nation on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, our greatest natural resources are the wind and the sea. Much research has been carried out over the past decade or so on harnessing the energy of our oceans however this is proving difficult given the very harsh environment that equipment needs to be placed in. Wind energy has a proven track record in Ireland and it produced nearly 30% of our electricity in 2018.

With a growing population and economy along with a transition away from fossil fuels in transport and home heating, the demand for green electricity generated from renewable sources will continue to increase.

If we are to take effective climate action and reduce our countries energy import dependency, a renewable energy mix consisting of all forms of renewable energy will need to be achieved.


Fossil Fuels and the Future Energy Challenge

The way we as people harness and use energy will be challenged in the coming years. The world is heavily dependent on depleting fossil fuel reserves and the population of the world continues to grow. In Ireland, we import approximately 66% of our energy requirements through oil and natural gas.

It is estimated that there will be an additional 1 million people living in the Republic of Ireland by 2050. That equates to an increase of over 20% in terms of people – all with a demand for electricity.

In 2019, the Joint Oireachtas Climate Action Committee set out a recommendation that Ireland should aim to achieve 70% renewable electricity by 2030.


We all need to think, not only about how we use electricity but also about how it is going to be generated!
  • Ireland imports approx. 66% of its fuel to meet its energy requirements!
  • In the long-term, Ireland cannot rely on imported fossil fuels to produce our electricity and heat our homes
  • Unless action is taken there will be an increasing global demand for oil and gas from an ever decreasing reserve


What other countries are doing:

  • Denmark has taken steps towards banning the installation of any new oil fired central heating in new buildings and in existing buildings where natural gas or community heating is available as part of their move towards a low carbon economy.
  • Great Britain is developing significant renewable energy facilities along with progressing Nuclear Energy as part of their answer to the challenges ahead.
  • Saudi Arabia (which has the second largest oil reserves in the world) launched a blueprint for their long-term goals called Vision 2030. One of these goals is to achieve near­ total government independence from oil revenues by 2030.


Graph indicating future energy scenario


Fossil Fuels are not only polluting – they are finite!

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