Four regional climate action offices to be established

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten has published Ireland’s first statutory National Adaptation Framework (NAF) – which includes a €10 million fund for the setting up of four Local Authority Regional Climate Action Offices.

Expert observations have shown that Ireland’s climate is changing in terms of: sea level rise; increases in average temperature; changes in precipitation patterns; and weather extremes.

Although the scale and rate of change is considered consistent with regional and global trends, these changes are projected to increase over the coming decades.

Climate change is projected to have a diverse and wide ranging impact on Ireland’s environment, society and economic development – including: managed and natural ecosystems; water resources; agriculture and food security; human health; and coastal zones.

Prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, the NAF sets out potential implications and specifies the development of adaptation measures for key sectors and local authorities.

Speaking at the launch at Sligo County Council, Minister Naughten said: “The challenges presented by climate change are unprecedented, both in terms of scale and transformation required to prepare for them.

We have seen it with Storm Ophelia and more recently with Storm Eleanor. Our response to climate change is not just about dealing with future impacts – we must also be prepared for the here and now.

“Today we are taking another vital step in enabling our transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy and society by 2050,” he said.

Under the framework, Government departments will be required to prepare Sectoral Adaption Plans for key sectors – including: agriculture; forestry; biodiversity; transport; and flood risk management.

Local authorities will also be preparing adaptation strategies to assess their key climate risks and vulnerabilities; while enabling resilience actions to be mainstreamed into all local, regional and national policy making.

Regional climate action offices

The minister also announced €10 million in funding towards the establishment of four regional offices to support the implementation of national climate policy. The funding will be available over a five-year period.

“Local authorities already provide a hugely important role as first responders to extreme weather related events.

Their local knowledge and expertise will be essential in determining how successful we are going to be in addressing the challenges of climate change.

“These offices will enable more coordinated engagement and help build on the experience and expertise which exists across the sector – namely planning and how the sector contributes effectively to climate related emergencies,” he said.

Welcoming the publication, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy acknowledged the crucial role local authorities can play in driving practical policy and behavioural change within communities.

“Local authorities are very well placed to coordinate and drive climate-friendly actions and initiatives that can instill stronger environmental and climate practices; as well as future-proof our cities, towns and wider counties as the global climate changes,” he said.