Ireland must prepare immediately for disruptive impacts of climate change such as extreme heat, the Government will be warned today, as a heatwave continues to bring record temperatures and wildfires to Europe.
The Climate Change Advisory Council, an independent body which advises the Government on climate matters, said Ireland is not prepared for today’s climate nor the climate of the future.
It will today issue an opinion on the Government’s plan to adapt to climate change and say that while a solid foundation has been put in place, more needs to be done urgently to prepare for the changes that a warming climate will bring.
The Government must take urgent action to ensure adequate infrastructure and services are in place to respond to the impact climate change is having on society, it will add.
Efforts to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have often overshadowed the need to prepare for the effects of climate change which are already inevitable, it will also note.
Professor Peter Thorne, chair of the council’s Adaptation Committee, said the country has “taken our eye off the ball” when it comes to adapting to a changing climate.
“We really have taken our eye off the ball of the other part of the equation, which is adapting to the change that we’ve already seen and will continue to see into the future,” he told Newstalk radio.
“The heatwave that we’ve seen across western Europe in the last few weeks is undoubtedly down to climate change, and it will become more frequent and more severe.”
Ireland's recent heatwave brought record-breaking temperatures, with Ireland's highest temperature of the 21st century recorded in Dublin on Monday when the mercury hit 33 degrees Celsius in Phoenix Park.
It comes as Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan will hold high-stakes talks with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue today to agree a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Last year the Government announced plans to cut emissions in the agriculture sector by 22 to 30 per cent by 2030 under its Climate Action Plan.
Today's negotiations are aimed at reaching agreement on a precise figure that can be brought to Cabinet next week for sign-off. While Mr Ryan is seeking a reduction of 30 per cent, Mr McConalogue is pushing for the smaller target amid pressure from rural Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backbenchers.
The Oireachtas Agriculture Committee will also discuss emission targets later, as farmers warn that a 30 per cent reduction would come at an unacceptable cost and put livelihoods at risk.