19 January 2018
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., today (19th January 2018) published Ireland’s first statutory National Adaptation Framework and announced funding of €10m to establish Local Authority Regional Climate Action Offices.
Observations show that Ireland’s climate is changing in terms of sea level rise, increases in average temperature, changes in precipitation patterns and weather extremes. The scale and rate of change is consistent with regional and global trends and these changes are projected to continue and increase over the coming decades. Climate change will have diverse and wide ranging impacts on Ireland’s environment, society and economic development, including managed and natural ecosystems, water resources, agriculture and food security, human health and coastal zones.
National Adaptation Framework (NAF)
Prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, the National Adaptation Framework (NAF) sets out the potential implications of climate change for Ireland and specifies the national strategy for the development of adaptation measures by key sectors and by local authorities. Speaking at the launch in the offices of Sligo County Council, Minister Naughten stated:
“The challenges presented by climate change are unprecedented, both in terms of the potential scale of the impacts and the transformation required to prepare for them. We are already all too familiar with the impacts that climate change is having on our economy and society - 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 and the more immediate challenges that present. In July last year I published Ireland’s first National Mitigation Plan and now today with the publication of the National Adaptation Framework we are taking another vital step in enabling our transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy and society by 2050.”
Under the Framework Government Departments will be required to prepare Sectoral Adaptation Plans for key sectors including Agriculture, Forestry, Biodiversity, Transport and Flood Risk Management. Local Authorities will also be preparing Adaptation Strategies and theFramework provides a basis for local authorities and key sectors to assess their key climate risks and vulnerabilities while enabling climate resilience actions to be mainstreamed into all local, regional and national policy making.
A number of resources are now in place to assist with adaptation planning and the Framework sets the context for these. These include the online resource, Climate Ireland, Sectoral Guidelines for Planning for Climate Change Adaptation and Local Authority Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Development Guidelines. Such resources will provide decision support tools and advice to assist sectors and local government in developing their responses to the projected impacts of climate change.
Local Authority Regional Climate Action Offices
In launching the National Adaptation Framework the Minister also announced funding of €10m over a five year period to establish Local Authority Regional Climate Action Offices to support the implementation of national climate policy. The establishment of the regional offices represents a key action under both the National Mitigation Plan and the National Adaptation Framework. Noting the importance of the role to be played by the Local Government sector Minister Naughten said:
“The National Adaptation Framework is quite clear on the key role to be played by Local Government in identifying our vulnerabilities and increasing our overall climate resilience. The local authorities already provide a hugely important role as first responders to extreme weather related events and their local knowledge and expertise will be essential in determining how successful we are going to be in addressing the challenges of climate change. I have allocated €10million to establish four Local Authority Regional Climate Action Offices. The establishment of these offices will enable a more coordinated engagement across the whole of government and will help build on the experience and expertise which exists across the sector, namely planning and how the sector contributes effectively to climate related emergencies”.
Welcoming the publication of the National Adaptation Framework and the provision of additional funding to assist local authorities in addressing and implementing climate mitigation and adaptation actions, Minister Eoghan Murphy acknowledged the crucial coordinating role that local authorities can play in driving practical policy and behavioural changes within our communities to encourage both businesses and indeed all citizens to embrace the climate action imperative and also plan for the future impacts that a changing climate will inevitably bring. “Local authorities are very well placed to coordinate and drive climate-friendly actions and initiatives that can in-still stronger environmental and climate practices, as well as future-proof our cities, towns and wider counties as the global climate changes.
These considerations and actions complement the local government system’s central role in implementing the new 20-year National Planning Framework and National Development Plan (through the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies), setting our communities on a more sustainable pathway over the coming decades and managing our social and economic growth responsibly and effectively.
Also welcoming the Minister’s launch of the NAF and the funding being provided, Ciaran Hayes, Chief Executive, Sligo County Council and local government representative on the National Dialogue on Climate Action and the Climate Change Advisory Council’s Adaptation Committee said:
“Climate change presents a challenge on a scale never before witnessed and the funding approved today will see the welcome establishment of a regional structure of expert teams that will position the local government sector to meet that challenge. Local authorities are in the front line of responding to the effects of climate change, particularly in the aftermath of severe weather events and today’s announcement enables the sector to further develop their competence to deal more comprehensively with climate change”.
Peter Carey, Chairperson of the City and County Management Association also welcomed today’s announcement stating, “the local government sector looks forward to working collaboratively with DCCAE, the government and other stakeholders in continuing to tackle climate change challenges and ensuring the best outcomes in partnership with our citizens as well as the voluntary and business sectors.”