Relentless implementation of policy needed to combat effects of climate extremes

“We have, by any measure, experienced an extraordinary year where nature reminded us who is in charge. With our changing climate, the confident predictions are that we can expect extreme events at greater frequency into the future”, said Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA, speaking at the annual ‘Environment Ireland’ conference.

Laura Burke was reflecting on how weather events in the last twelve months – from storms and an ex-hurricane to a prolonged drought and heat wave – severely tested the resilience of Ireland’s infrastructure, economy, health-care services as well as people’s wellbeing:

“This last year has been a turning point in the minds of the public and sectors about what we need to do to build and assure resilience. Mitigation is essential, adaptation is necessary, anything less is unsustainable, indeed, irresponsible.”

Ms Burke welcomed the advancement of the National Mitigation Plan and National Adaptation Framework and  highlighted that it is now a priority to ensure committed, coherent and relentless implementation of plans and policy measures to meet national and international commitments,  ensure the well-being of society, the stability of the economy and the  safeguarding of  the environment :

“The systemic nature of the climate challenge emphasises the need to deliver enduring, integrated, all-of-government structures with clear responsibility and accountability.  We need to move from a focus on achieving compliance with international commitments to driving the transformational change that is urgently needed across our entire economy and society so as to deliver on Ireland’s ambition to be a leader in tackling climate change and in doing so protect our health and well being.”

Laura Burke reminded delegates that, for Ireland to grow sustainably, it is essential to safeguard and rigorously implement all areas of environmental policy and to remind every individual of the role they play:

“Our strong economic and population growth brings with it pressures on land, water supply, sewage treatment, raw materials supply and waste management.  We must not repeat the mistakes of our past.”

”Implementation challenges remain at national, regional and at societal level”, she concluded, “however people can make changes by adhering to regulations and dealing with matters such as litter, waste prevention, water use, smoky coal use, septic tank management, and conspicuous consumerism, all of which impact on our health, the quality of our environment and sustainability of resources use.  Our environment, quite literally, sustains us and we all have a role to play in its protection.”

Environment Ireland 
Environment Ireland is Ireland’s major environmental policy and management conference. Organised in association with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the conference is now in its 14th year.
The full programme can be viewed online .

Climate Action

In the last year Ireland undertook activities that are intended to mitigate the climate change challenges, raise awareness, and transition the nation to a low carbon and sustainable society and economy.  These included:

  • The National Mitigation Plan and the National Adaptation Framework published;
  • Two reports from the Climate Change Advisory Council published;
  • ‘Project Ireland 2040’ published, incorporating the National Development Plan and the National Planning Framework, and the €500M Climate Investment fund;
  • Report of the Citizens Assembly on how Ireland can be a Leader in Tackling Climate Change published;
  • Four Climate Action Regional Offices and the Special Dáil Committee on Climate Action established;
  • The first Regional Gathering under the National Dialogue on Climate Action held.

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