EPA Launches Five Landmark Climate Change Research Reports

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published five new research studies which explore diverse issues within climate change, ranging from economy wide mitigation options to regional and local adaptation needs.

Laura Burke, EPA Director General, says: “The EPA’s climate change research programme has successfully focussed resources to investigate priority issues related to Ireland’s response to climate change. This is a long term challenge which requires planning and action today. Science can inform the required responses, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation, and these reports show us a way forward.”

An outline of each of the five reports is given below and all of these reports are now available on the EPA website at http://www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/research/climate/

Report 1: Future Energy Scenarios for Ireland Up To 2050; The Irish TIMES Energy System Model. Dr Brian Ó Gallachóir, UCC:

This report summarises the work done by Dr. Brian O’Gallachóir to develop the Irish TIMES energy model (the Irish version of the internationally developed TIMES energy systems model) which provides a means of assessing the implication of alternative future energy system pathways up to 2050 for the Irish economy, Ireland’s energy mix and energy dependence, and the environment. The research was co-funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The model shows potential optimal solutions for achieving greenhouse gas emissions targets in the energy sector (including transport, heat and electricity generation), while meeting demand for energy. Some of the key findings of the research show:

  • Technologies exist to allow 80-95% reduction in the Irish energy sector by 2050.
  • Electrification of heat and transport could be important measures to reduce emissions.
  • Renewable energies will be important in meeting ambitious mitigation targets.

Report 2: The Potential for Grass Biomethane as a Biofuel,  Dr. Jerry Murphy, UCC:

This report summarises work done by Dr. Jerry Murphy and his team in the Environmental Research Institute at University College Cork. The team has successfully modified standard technologies used to generate methane from waste and used them to generate methane from grass. The team has also undertaken analysis of the barriers to the development of this technology in Ireland.

This report presents a coherent case that biomethane may be a significant part of our future energy infrastructure without major land management changes. This work has been further developed by Bord Gais.

Report 3: Addressing Climate Change Challenges in Ireland, Gemma O’Reilly, NUIG/EPA

This report is focussed on the transition to a low-emission Ireland by 2050. It outlines critical issues and options for key elements of climate policy development and explores domestic climate policy options. Land management to enhance sinks, if coupled with decarbonisation of energy and transport systems and with a highly efficient agriculture sector, may result in a greenhouse gas emissions neutral Ireland by 2050.

This has potential to underpin green economic growth by enhancing Ireland’s reputation both as a green exporter and as a green location for business. Early action byIrelandcould secure markets for Irish climate products and services.

Key conclusions include:

  •   A vision a GHG neutral Ireland by 2050
  • The importance of early action including planning to achieve long term goals The important role for land use to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality.

Report 4: State of Ireland’s Climate 2012, ed. Ned Dwyer, UCC

This report brings together observational information and data for over 40 climate variables and provides a comprehensive overview of the State of Ireland’s Climate in 2012. It highlights changes and trends in aspects of Irish climate across the atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial domains. The observations presented in this report contribute to the formulation of the Essential Climate Variables as defined by the Global Climate Observing System and raises alerts about important gaps and vulnerabilities in the observation networks and structures, such as the national tide gauge network.

Report 5: Robust Adaptation to Climate Change in the Water Sector in Ireland, Conor Murphy, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

This report presents a framework for supporting adaptation to climate change and provides a tool for assessing adaptation options in the Water Sector. Adaptation is necessary to positionIrelandto better manage the impacts of climate change. Impact studies to date have identified climate change signals, in both increased river flows during winter and spring, along with reductions in late summer and autumn. These changes are projected to become more pronounced by the middle and end of this century.

The framework presented is built on the identification of vulnerability for individual surface water abstraction points. Vulnerability is highlighted where climate change is likely to alter the availability of water to meet demands at that point. In such situations an adaptation tool has been developed to identify and appraise adaptation options that are robust.

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