Climate change is expected to 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. Because we are already committed to some level of climate change, responding to climate change involves a two-pronged approach:
- Mitigation to reduce emissions and stablise the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to prevent further change.
- Adaptating to these changes and the associated impacts that are already locked in and will continue and evolve for the foreseeable future.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) defined adaptation as “ the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects, in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects” (IPCC, 2019)
Effective climate adaptation can minimise risks and costs and also protect lives and property by building resilience into existing systems.
While climate change is a global challenge, it is at the local level that impacts are most felt, and from where responses to climate change are enacted.
Adaptation & Local Authorities
Local authorities are to the fore in effectively responding to major emergencies and increasing incidents of severe weather arising from the impacts of climate change and have a critical role in managing climate vulnerabilities and delivering adaptation actions.
Ireland’s main policy response to the impacts of climate change challenges is set out in the National Adaptation Framework, which was prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, and published in January 2018.
The Framework identifies the critical role to be played by Local Authorities in addressing climate change adaptation and mandates all Local Authorities to adopt a Climate Adaptation Strategy.
All 31 local authorities, supported by the CAROs and Climate Ireland adopted their Adaptation Strategies by September 2019 and will be reviewed and updated at least once every five years.
The Adaptation Strategies for the Local Authorities and the Sectoral Adaptation Plans can be easily found on Climate Ireland using the Adaptation Strategy Explorer.
Local Authority Adaptation Strategies
The Local Authority Adaptation Strategies were informed by the Local Authority Adaptation Strategy Development Guideline prepared by Climate Ireland. The adaptation actions are risk based, informed by existing vulnerabilities of local authority infrastructure and services, and an understanding of projected climate change.
The objectives range from building adaptive capacity through increasing awareness, sharing information and targeted training, integrating adaptation into decision making (mainstreaming), through to policy and finance-based actions.
- Grey Actions: Grey adaptation typically involves technical or engineering oriented responses to climate impacts. Grey actions include the construction of sea walls in response to sea level rise, or larger reservoirs in the face of water shortages.
- Green Actions: Green adaptation actions seek to use nature-based solutions to enhance the resilience of human and natural systems. Actions include efforts to reinstate dune systems to act as buffers against coastal storm damage, or the creation of green spaces and parks to counteract urban heat island effect.
- Soft Actions: Soft adaptation actions involve alterations in behaviour, regulation or systems of management, such as land-use planning policy. Soft measures have the potential to be relatively flexible and inexpensive to progress. They are therefore often considered the most tractable first steps in taking action on climate adaptation.
Department of Environment, Climate & Communications
provides a Virtual Library of relevant adaptation policies, strategies and plans and various Tools and Resources to support adaptation actions.
provides policy information on Adapting to Climate Breakdown
The European Climate Adaptation Platform Climate-ADAPT
provides information, case studies, research and tools on adaptation.