Key Challenges and Opportunities for Ireland – EPA Climate Change Conference

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has hosted a significant conference on climate change to address the key elements of the Copenhagen Accord, agreed at the December 2009 meeting of the UNFCCC, and to contribute to preparations for the forthcoming conference in Cancun, Mexico in November 2010. The conference was opened by Ciaran Cuffe, TD, Minister of State for Planning, Sustainable Transport and Horticulture, with specialist sessions chaired by the Assistant Secretaries from the Departments of Environment, Transport and Finance.

Over 300 delegates registered for the one day conference held at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The conference provided an overall perspective on some of the key challenges presented by climate change for Ireland, and explored developments in the climate science and policy arenas. These include the important target of keeping the global temperature increase to below two degree Celsius (2 C) and a major financial package for developing countries to assist them with adaptation and mitigation actions.

Dr Mary Kelly, director general of the EPA.

Speaking at the conference, Dr Mary Kelly, director general of the EPA said: “The Copenhagen Accord was regarded as a disappointment by many, but it does include very important elements. It provides guidance for the negotiation process, as well as backing for a major financial package for developing country actions.”

Financial support is seen as a key element of a future climate deal including both public and private financing. The conference heard from Dr Andrea Pinna of the European Investment Bank (EIB) about how the EIB will support climate funding. A specialist session on financial and market instruments also considered funding for actions on climate change.

“Addressing climate change is an immense challenge and we don’t have time on our side. This is particularly the case with adaptation to climate impacts, where future climate has to be factored into long term investments and planning,” Dr Kelly pointed out.

A specialist session focused on this issue and heard new analysis from recent research on extreme events in Ireland, as well as ongoing work on assessment of adaptation options.

The conference showcased new research provided by projects funded under the EPA’s Climate Change Research Programme. The Programme, which is coordinated by the EPA, is linked to a number of other state agencies and government departments who support or fund climate change related research.

“Our work on climate change research is a practical example of joined up thinking at government level. This issue demands a coordinated response and that is what we are demonstrating here,” Dr Kelly explained. “Addressing climate change will require major socio-economic transformations for Ireland, Europe and the world. Participation at Assistant Secretary level in the Departments of Environment, Agriculture, Energy, Finance and Enterprise and Innovation is very welcome.”

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