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Climate Adaptation Framework Published

04 Jan 2013

While climate mitigation (emissions reduction) has been the central focus of climate policymaking to date, 2013 will see a greater focus on adaptation to climate change.

It is becoming increasingly challenging to keep global warming to 2oC, according to the cacophony of warnings from scientific and policy organisations including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and the United Nations Environment Programme. Emissions are already locked into the atmosphere and warming is now inevitable, with effects such as increasing water stress, more frequent extreme weather events such as flooding, lowered crop yields, biodiversity loss and adverse health impacts anticipated. Making preparations accordingly to manage a changing climate is critical.

The long awaited National Climate Change Adaptation FrameworkBuilding Resilience to Climate Change was published on 28 December 2012 by Irish Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan T.D.

To date, efforts have gone into building a picture of the impacts of climate change for Ireland.  We now know that the Irish climate is changing and that Ireland is bearing the brunt of more intense and frequent rainfall. Future projections include rising temperatures, more extreme weather events, increased flooding, droughts in the East and biodiversity effects.

As a result of this knowledge and capacity building effort, the Environmental Protection Agency maintains that Ireland now has sufficient understanding to begin to plan for a changing climate in a way that minimises vulnerabilities and maximises opportunities. Creating an overall framework and process for planning is the core aim of the new Framework. This is necessary so that climate adaptation does not take place in a reactive or ad hoc way, but rather in a strategic and coordinated way.

The Framework takes a sectoral approach to climate adaptation. Individual Government Departments (or agencies where relevant) must publish draft adaptation plans by mid-2014, which will be adopted by the relevant line Minister. So for instance, the Department of the Environment will look at water quality and emergency planning, the Department of Agriculture will prepare plans on forestry, agriculture and fisheries, while the Office of Public Works will look at flood defence.

Local adaptation will be considered primarily through ongoing spatial development planning by local authorities. They are required to begin a  review of their existing development plans also by mid-2014, if they inadequately deal with climate adaptation.

In order to ensure the proper implementation of plans, the Framework stresses the need for careful monitoring against specific criteria, clear timelines for implementation and for ownership of individual plans. Monitoring and review has been a historical weakness in Irish climate policy, so a clear structure for ensuring delivery is particularly important.

At an EU level, the European Commission is due to publish an EU Climate Adaptation Strategy in March 2013. It will build on the knowledge base developed since its 2009 White Paper on Adaptation. It will focus on addressing knowledge gaps, climate-proofing EU policies, and on mobilising the private sector to provide insurance products tailored to a changing climate. The intention is to shift from understanding the hows, wheres and whys of climate adaptation to implementing actions that will make the EU increasingly climate resilient.


This content forms part of the Environment Nexus project, which is co-financed bDG Communication of the European Parliament.

As an independent forum, the Institute does not express any opinions of its own. The views expressed in the article are the sole responsibility of the author.

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