The cost of ignoring climate change is “catastrophic”, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has warned.
He was speaking as a landmark report warns that the world’s set to hit the global warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next 20 years.
The United Nations review has found humans are unequivocally driving climate change, and some of the recent unprecedented changes are already irreversible.
It says heatwaves, flooding and droughts will be more frequent and intense, amid an already visible increase in extreme weather events.
Every region on Earth is being affected by the changes – from increasing temperatures to rising sea levels and changes in rainfall levels.
IPCC co-chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte said, “this report is a reality check. We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.”
“It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed.”
However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report says climate change can still be limited if there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in emissions.
Environment and Climate Minister Eamon Ryan TD said, “today’s report by the IPCC is a stark reminder that we have limited time in which to act to prevent more devastating impacts from climate change. The report, based on the latest climate science, has observed unprecedented changes in the climate system. Every region of the world, across the entire climate system, has already been impacted by extreme event. There is ever greater certainty about climate change and ever greater urgency about the need to tackle it.”
“The role of human influence is undisputed and has resulted in warming of the atmosphere, ocean and land. The report reinforces and builds on existing evidence, which links extreme weather events to climate change. Some changes, such as the rise in sea level, are irreversible.”
“For Ireland and Europe the report predicts more intense heatwaves and increased flooding as temperatures rise. If global temperature rise by more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels there will be critical consequences for agriculture and health.”
“The most serious conclusion is that the window of time to stabilise our climate is closing. Here in Ireland we recently passed the Climate Act, which commits us to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, and a cut of 51% by 2030 (compared to 2018 levels). We will very shortly publish the Climate Action Plan 2021, which will set out the measures we need to take to reach our 2030 targets, including more renewable energy, decreased transport emissions, changes in how we heat our homes and how we grow our food and look after our land. These steps will be challenging but they will also create new opportunities.”
“Today’s report makes it clear that failure to act will have devastating consequences, but it also offers hope. Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of C02 and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. We know what we have to do. We now need to harness a national and global effort to do it.”