The Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), the body that advises the government on climate change issues, has said that the government must place a greater focus on adaptation and integrate it with mitigation.
Climate change adaptation refers to putting systems and infrastructure in place to protect people and the environment from the severe events related to climate change.
Mitigation refers to efforts to prevent those events occurring by trying to stop or slow climate change by cutting emissions.
In a submission on the public consultation for a review of the National Adaptation Framework (NAF), the CCAC argues that adaptation in Ireland has so far not been of sufficient scale.
In a letter addressed to Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan as part of its submission, the CCAC said planned adaptation to climate change can present opportunities for “innovative, inclusive and transformative climate-resilient development”.
However, Marie Donnelly, the CCAC chairperson, said in the letter: “While the current NAF, and sectoral and local adaptation plans and strategies, provide a solid foundation, overall adaptation in Ireland has, to date, often been marginal, incremental and process-based and this is no longer sufficient.”
Donnelly argued: “A revised NAF must therefore provide for further integration with mitigation, sustainable development and disaster risk reduction, all within the context of the national climate objective set out in the Climate Act.”
According to the CCAC, the existing adaptation deficit and increasing severity or frequency of weather events can impact on agricultural output, as well as property and infrastructure damage, or even cause loss of life.
The CCAC is calling for all sectoral adaptation plans to be revised and updated, with particularly urgent attention devoted to coastal flooding resiliance.
“The NAF and plans under it should be informed by a regular national risk assessment and they should also clearly prioritise actions and investments,” Donnelly argued.
She also called for the provision of adequate financial supports for adaptation activities on a sustained basis.
“The government must also urgently set forth and then monitor a set of national resilience indicators to measure our resilience and assess progress towards achieving climate resilient development.”
The CCAC’s submission recommends establishing an “adaptation budget” to 2030, which would prioritise funding for adaptation to a “significantly greater degree” than is currently the case.