Irish peak temperatures to rise by ‘up to 2.6 degrees’ by 2050

National strategy for adapting to climate change published

A sunny day in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green.  Hot days in Ireland are projected to  get warmer by up to 2.6 degrees by 2050. Photograph: Frank Miller

A sunny day in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green. Hot days in Ireland are projected to get warmer by up to 2.6 degrees by 2050. Photograph: Frank Miller

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Ireland’s first national strategy for adapting to climate change has set out how the Irish economy and society must be made more resilient to withstand the inevitable consequences of global warming over coming decades.

The national adaptation framework (NAF) was published on Friday by Minister for Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten, and outlines statutory-enforced responsibilities for Government departments, State agencies and local authorities in making “a climate-resilient Ireland”.

Mr Naughten has also announced funding of €10 million to establish local authority regional climate action offices.

The report pools the best scientific predictions of what is likely to happen to our climate by 2050 due to global warming. These include:

* Mean annual temperatures will increase by up to 1.7 degrees, with the largest increases seen in the east.

* Hot days will get warmer by up to 2.6 degrees.

* Cold nights will get warmer by up to 3.1 degrees.

* Frost days averaged over the whole country are projected to decrease by over 50 per cent.

* The average length of the growing season will increase by over 35 days per year.

* There will be decreases in annual, spring and summer rainfall by mid-century; in summer this will range up to 20 per cent.

* Heavy rainfall events will increase in winter and autumn.

* Storms affecting Ireland will decrease in frequency but increase in intensity, with increased risk of damage.

Further research indicates that sea levels will rise by up to 60cm by 2100. The NAF says this will be “the primary driver in magnifying the impacts of changing storm surge and wave patterns in coastal areas”, with the west coast particularly vulnerable.

The document notes the total value of assets lost as a result of flooding events in Ireland has averaged €200 million per year in recent years and predicts this will rise to €1.15 billion by 2050. It confirms the view it is “feasible for the Government to protect up to 90 per cent of at risk properties” based on 300 areas studied.

Work to protect 12,000 at-risk properties is already underway with ten flood defence schemes under construction and a further 25 schemes at design and planning stage. It recommends local authorities consider acquiring flood-prone lands for suitable but less vulnerable land use.

Speaking in Sligo, Mr Naughten said: “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.”

The NAF was “another vital step in enabling our transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy and society by 2050”, he said. It requires Government departments to prepare “sectoral adaptation plans” for key sectors including agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, transport and flood risk management.

Sligo Co Council chief executive Ciarán Hayes said climate change “presents a challenge on a scale never before witnessed and the funding approved on Friday would see “the welcome establishment of a regional structure of expert teams that will position the local government sector to meet that challenge”.

City and County Management Association chairman Peter Carey said the local government sector looked forward to working collaboratively with the Department of Climate Action and Environment, 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”.

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