The war in Ukraine must not be an excuse to neglect the climate crisis, the government adviser warns


CLIMATE CHANGE is a crisis like the war in Ukraine and cannot be neglected, although there are other challenges, said the head of the national climate advisory body.

Arie Donnelly, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), said suspending action over Ukraine would only make the climate crisis worse.

Ms Donnelly said she felt great sadness and empathy for the people of Ukraine.

“This is a very real crisis that feels very close to our daily lives,” she said.

“The difficulty with climate change is that it’s a bit distant, unless it has come and impacted your daily life in very direct ways. It doesn’t feel that relevant.

“But it is just as much a crisis as the European situation.

“And the difficulty is that if we don’t do something now, until it has an impact and becomes a reality in our lives, it’s too late.”

The CCAC consists of experts in climate and environmental sciences, meteorology, transport, agriculture, business, trade unions and energy tasked with advising the government on climate policy.

They were also tasked with proposing the country’s first carbon budgets, a series of five-year plans to gradually reduce carbon emissions to halving by 2030 and on a path to zero by 2050.

The first budget covers the period 2021-2025, but the government has not yet finalized how the budget of 295 tonnes of carbon, representing an annual cut of 4.8 percent for each of the five years, will be split.

Ms Donnelly, speaking in a webinar hosted by Trinity College Dublin, said while emissions had fallen slightly in 2020 it was mainly due to Covid and there was evidence the trend had not continued.

“We may have real difficulties meeting the first five-year carbon budget,” she said.

Ms Donnelly said the Government must respond quickly to a range of initiatives that would help address both the climate crisis and any repeat of the current energy shortage.

These included the development of district heating systems, a plan to produce biogas from agricultural waste, and the completion of the micro-generation system that will pay rooftop solar panel owners for excess electricity they feed into the national grid.

Ms Donnelly warned that even with the best plans to reduce carbon emissions and curb global warming, the effects of climate change are already evident.

Adapting the built environment to these impacts has been critical.

“A lot of work has been done in the country for flood control, but it is still ongoing as rainfall patterns and levels are constantly changing, and certainly not for the better.

“We have issues with ocean warming and sea level rise and given the extent to which our major cities are all geared towards coastal communities, this is a real concern.

“This is a potential catastrophe waiting to happen.

“If sea levels continue to rise and are expected to continue to rise, what will be the impact on Cork, on Dublin, Limerick, Galway?” The war in Ukraine must not be an excuse to neglect the climate crisis, the government adviser warns

Fry Electronics Team

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