Launch of Ireland's Climate Change Assessment

ICHEC, in partnership with Maynooth University, led on Volume 3: Being Prepared for Ireland's Future Climate in Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment Report (ICCA).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment Report (ICCA) on Thursday 25th January 2024 at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. This major scientific assessment complements and localises the global assessments undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the latest of which was published in three parts between August 2021 and April 2022.

Undertaken by leading researchers across multiple institutions, the assessment report delivers a first comprehensive Ireland-focused, state of scientific knowledge report on our understanding of climate change, the options to respond to the challenges it poses, and the opportunities that may arise from the planned transition to a climate neutral and climate resilient economy and society. 

ICCA was led by the Environmental Protection Agency and funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, with additional funding by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, and the Department of Transport.

The launch was attended by Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, who stressed the actions needed yet also noted the large progress that has been made of late in reducing emissions in transport and other sectors. The event also featured an address from EPA Director General, Laura Burke, plus presentations from the author teams, followed by a Q&A with the media and other guests.

ICCA Structure and ICHEC's Contribution to Volume 3

The ICCA report consists of four volumes, covering the underlying science (Vol.1), climate neutrality and decarbonisation (Vol.2), climate resilience and adaptation (Vol.3), and just transitions and transformative change (Vol.4). In addition to the four volumes (consisting of a summary for policy makers and the full volume report linked just below each one), a Synthesis Report presents the overall findings of the underlying volumes. 

ICCA Structure

ICHEC, in partnership with Maynooth University, led on Volume 3: Being Prepared for Ireland's Future Climate. ICHEC's Dr Paul Nolan, Dr Liam Heaphy, and Dr Enda O'Brien worked with Maynooth's Prof Conor Murphy and Dr Tara Quinn to research the existing science and write an extended report on adaptation research and policy in Ireland. The volumes were prepared simultaneously, requiring collaboration and coordination between the various teams, as well as with the many external contributing authors who assisted with various topics according to their expertise.

The full Volume 3 report covers biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, land-use, coastal and inland water, settlements, heritage, critical infrastructure, health, business, and tourism in its ten chapters. Its breadth, as compared to more targeted research or localised case study reports, will serve its functions of synthesising and evaluating the existing research and policy, highlighting knowledge and policy gaps, and charting the way for further climate action.

Key Findings from Volume 3: Being Prepared for Ireland's Future Climate

The report finds that Ireland's climate is changing with impacts being felt both in Ireland and elsewhere. This will be the reality until excessive greenhouse gases cease and a new climate equilibrium is achieved. While early concerted action can limit global temperatures by the end of the century, sea levels will continue to rise beyond 2100. Furthermore, climate impacts interact with and intensify other environmental impacts from human activity, such as we see in our biodiversity crisis. Indeed, the day of the launch coincided with the launch of a new biodiversity action plan that morning.

The ICCA report calls for greater integration of adaptation and mitigation through more proactive land-use management in spatial planning, covering land and water resources, and for building climate adaptation into future planning at all levels and scales, public and private.

Given that climate action requires rapid change and sometimes expediency, extra care is required to define and achieve just transitions that account for vulnerable places, people and their livelihoods, and other species. 

In relation to climate services and projections of future impacts, the report calls for targeted, iterative and coordinated research on impacts across sectors with comparable methods so that future iterations of this report can compare. Lastly, the report emphasises that adaptation actions are essentially an investment in our collective future.

The synthesis versions of the reports are available from the EPA's website and the full volume text will be available in due course.

For further details, please contact Liam Heaphy and Paul Nolan.


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