Ireland could become magnet for ‘climate refugees’
Public being duped by ‘mischievous misinformation’, says Prof John Sweeney
A motorist makes his way through floods in Co Kildare in 2009: the findings of the UN report could “spell chaos” for the Irish economy, says Stop Climate Chaos spokesman Oisín Coghlan. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Ireland could face an influx of “climate refugees” if the rate of climate change is not checked, a coalition of non-governmental organisations has warned.
The Stop Climate Chaos coalition was reacting to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which found a 95 per cent probability that human activities, led by the burning of fossil fuels, are the main cause of global warming since the mid-20th century.
Ireland’s leading climate scientist, Prof John Sweeney, said he feared a majority of the public would still not believe the report because of a “mischievous campaign of misinformation”.
The window for curbing climate change was short he said.
“We need to significantly reduce greenhouse gases over the next decade, after 2020 that window will close and the situation will be very bleak indeed.”
Ireland’s complacency because of its temperate climate was a mistake, he said. “Climate proofing will be a major challenge in the next few decades in Ireland we need to take this problem rather more seriously than we have in the past.”
Economy at risk
The findings of the report could “spell chaos” for Ireland’s economy, Stop Climate Chaos spokesman Oisín Coghlan said.
“In the parts of the world most affected by climate change – for example, low-lying states like Bangladesh – there will be major movements of people. The phenomenon of ‘climate refugees’ will grow, and Ireland – with its temperate climate – is likely to be viewed as a safe haven.
In addition to the possibility of unprecedented levels of migration, and of supporting a larger population here, the Irish economy was at risk from the problems of unchecked climate change, Mr Coghlan said.
“The weather in Ireland will become more volatile. Extremes of heat and cold – such as we experienced in 2010 and 2011 – would be much more frequent. Our summers would be warmer, but our autumns would be wetter, and floods would be commonplace. The consequences for major economic sectors – such as agriculture and food production – would be huge.
Mr Coghlan called on the Government to strengthen its proposed climate legislation in response to the IPCC report.