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Climate Change Resources

Climate Change Adaptation

Planning for the adverse effects of climate change.

Climate Change Information

Climate Change’s influence on the history of life on the planet.

Just Transition

Transitioning towards a climate-neutral economy in a fair way.

Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change is expected to have diverse and wide-ranging impacts on Ireland’s environment, society and economic development, including managed and natural ecosystems, water resources, agriculture and food security, human health and coastal zones.

Because we are already committed to some level of climate change, responding to climate change involves a two-pronged approach:

  • Mitigation to reduce emissions and stablise the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to prevent further change.
  • Adaptating to these changes and the associated impacts that are already locked in and will continue and evolve for the foreseeable future.

Climate Adaptation

Increased climate change impacts are expected in the future as a result of the delayed impact from greenhouse gases already released into the atmosphere and the continued release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in the future.

Climate Adaptation is planning for the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) defined adaptation as “ the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects, in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects” (IPCC, 2019)

Effective climate adaptation can minimise risks and costs and also protect lives and property by building resilience into existing systems.
While climate change is a global challenge, it is at the local level that impacts are most felt, and from where responses to climate change are enacted.

Adaptation & Local Authorities

Local authorities are to the fore in effectively responding to major emergencies and increasing incidents of severe weather arising from the impacts of climate change and have a critical role in managing climate vulnerabilities and delivering adaptation actions.
Ireland’s main policy response to the impacts of climate change challenges is set out in the National Adaptation Framework, which was prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, and published in January 2018.
The Framework identifies the critical role to be played by Local Authorities in addressing climate change adaptation and mandates all Local Authorities to adopt a Climate Adaptation Strategy.
All 31 local authorities, supported by the CAROs and Climate Ireland adopted their Adaptation Strategies by September 2019 and will be reviewed and updated at least once every five years.

The Adaptation Strategies for the Local Authorities and the Sectoral Adaptation Plans can be easily found on Climate Ireland using the Adaptation Strategy Explorer.

Local Authority Adaptation Strategies

The Local Authority Adaptation Strategies were informed by the Local Authority Adaptation Strategy Development Guideline prepared by Climate Ireland. The adaptation actions are risk based, informed by existing vulnerabilities of local authority infrastructure and services, and an understanding of projected climate change.
The objectives range from building adaptive capacity through increasing awareness, sharing information and targeted training, integrating adaptation into decision making (mainstreaming), through to policy and finance-based actions.

  • Grey Actions: Grey adaptation typically involves technical or engineering oriented responses to climate impacts. Grey actions include the construction of sea walls in response to sea level rise, or larger reservoirs in the face of water shortages.
  • Green Actions: Green adaptation actions seek to use nature-based solutions to enhance the resilience of human and natural systems. Actions include efforts to reinstate dune systems to act as buffers against coastal storm damage, or the creation of green spaces and parks to counteract urban heat island effect.
  • Soft Actions: Soft adaptation actions involve alterations in behaviour, regulation or systems of management, such as land-use planning policy. Soft measures have the potential to be relatively flexible and inexpensive to progress. They are therefore often considered the most tractable first steps in taking action on climate adaptation.

Further Information

Climate Ireland provides a Virtual Library of relevant adaptation policies, strategies and plans and various Tools and Resources to support adaptation actions.

Department of Environment, Climate & Communications provides policy information on Adapting to Climate Breakdown

The European Climate Adaptation Platform Climate-ADAPT provides information, case studies, research and tools on adaptation.

Climate Change Information

Changes in the Earth’s climate is not something new and these changes have had a profound influence on the history of life on the planet.

These natural variations occurred through internal fluctuations that exchange energy, water and carbon between the atmosphere, oceans, land and ice, and from external influences on the climate system, including variations in the energy received from the sun and the effects of volcanic eruptions.

Ice cores and geological records show that the global temperature has changed over the last 800,000 years when compared to the average temperature of the Earth over the last 1,000 years.

There have been warming periods where temperatures were slightly higher than those we experience today. Through these periods, sea levels were far higher. For example, 125,000 years ago, sea levels were 5 – 10 m higher than they are today due to melting of ice sheets. There are also times in Earth’s history when there were very cold glacial periods, otherwise known as ‘Ice Ages’.

These global climate change has typically occurred very slowly over thousands or millions of years and have been caused by many natural factors, variations in output energy from the sun, changes in the Earth’s orbit, changes in ocean circulation and changes in composition of the atmosphere.

Records from thousands of weather stations around the world show the temperature measured at the Earth’s surface has increased substantially over the past century, and especially over the past 50 years. Other evidence from around the world, including warming oceans from surface to depths and reductions in ice and snow cover, provide further proof that planetary scale warming is taking place.

These observations make it clear that climate change is occurring more rapidly than in the past.

What is different about this period of the earth’s history is the influence of human activities on natural climate change and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

“Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate” –  IPCC, Special Report – Global Warming of 1.5 ºC


Satellites orbiting the Earth and monitoring stations on the ground show that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing, in particular carbon dioxide, which is enhancing the earth’s natural greenhouse effect.

This is leading to rising temperatures and disruption to the climate.

A 1ºC global warming may not seem significant but it takes a vast amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere and land and these gradual increases in temperature have a wide range of impacts on our daily lives and the frequency and intensity of extreme temperatures. We are already seeing dramatic impacts – altered weather patterns, reduced snow and ice and a rise in sea levels.

The world warmed by about 4ºC – 5ºC over the millennia since the last Ice Age, as part of the natural cycle tied to changes in the Earth’s orbit about the Sun, which drastically changed the conditions on Earth.

If the present accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues unchecked, greenhouse warming of similar magnitude could occur by as soon as the end of this century. This scale and speed of change would pose major challenges to humans and natural systems.

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report – Global Warming of 1.5ºC – that advised keeping the rise in global temperatures below 1.5ºC this century would require ‘rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems’. The report stresses the vast difference between the devastation from 1.5°C, what’s considered the moderate level of average warming, and 2°C.

“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet.”
– UN Summit, General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, UN Summit 2019.

The IPCC Special Report makes clear that climate change is already happening and warned that every fraction of additional warming would worsen the impacts, from rising sea levels to more devastating droughts to more damaging storms.

Just Transition

The concept of a ‘Just Transition’ has its origins in the International Labour Movement and is an integral part of many of the global commitments adopted by countries. The UN Sustainable Development Goals collectively represent the agenda of a ‘Just Transition’.

The Paris Agreement 2015, which was adopted by 195 countries, including Ireland, represented the first ever global, legally-binding, climate deal. The agreement accords the ‘Just Transition’ concept as a key, central role in how states shape their response to climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy.

The Paris Agreement requires signatory parties take action to deal with greenhouse gas emissions, while considering “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities…”.
Climate Action + Social Inclusion = The Just Transition.

At its core, the just transition is a forward-looking, action-oriented framework that identifies opportunities for public and private investment in economic development that is both sustainable and inclusive.It helps to connect activities across international organisations, regional and national governments, businesses and investors, the development and philanthropic sectors, and, crucially, the workers and communities who will feel the effects of the transition most keenly.

Importantly, the just transition is a global agenda for industrialised as well as emerging and developing economies, one that addresses both the decarbonisation and resilience dimensions of the transition.

Guidelines for a Just Transition towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has devised clear and comprehensive guidelines to underpin the Just Transition process in member states. The guiding principles state that “social dialogue” must play an integral part of policy formulation in respect of the transition to environmentally sustainable economies and societies.

No single actor can deliver the just transition alone. Governments have a leading role in terms of linking climate, macroeconomic, industrial, labour and regional policies. Business and trade unions play a direct role in shaping the transition within the workplace, along with civil society organisations in the wider community.

European Green Deal

The European Green Deal sets out a plan to make the EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities and making the transition just and inclusive for all.

The Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) is a key tool to ensure that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way. The Mechanism consists of three pillars:

  • A Just Transition Fund,
  • A Just Transition Scheme under Invest-EU
  • A Public Sector Loan Facility.

The Mechanism is part of the €1 trillion European Green Deal investment. Support will be available to all Member States, focused on regions that are the most carbon-intensive or with the most people working in fossil fuel industries.The Just Transition Fund supports include investment in SMEs and start-ups, research and innovation, transfer of advanced technologies, affordable green energy, as well as decarbonisation of local transport.

The investment support will be based on the specific investment needs identified in the Territorial Just Transition Plans as drafted by the EU Member States and the InvestEU programme (2021 – 2027).

An overview of the EU Just Transition Fund can be found here.

Ireland and the Just Transition

Ireland is set to receive up to €77 million from the EU Just Transition Fund. A total of €44 million comes under the Next Generation EU instrument and would be aimed at projects during the 2021-24 period.

In addition to the EU policy actions, the Irish Government has also established an Irish Just Transition Fund 2020 and the Office of a Just Transition Commissioner. The Just Transition Fund 2020 is a €11 million fund for retraining programmes of the workers and for supporting employment opportunities in green enterprises in the Midlands region. The Midlands region will be particularly affected by climate mitigation policies and decarbonising of the local economy due to the significant presence of Bord na Móna.

Details of the Irish Just Transition Fund can be found here.

The CARO have secured a provisional offer to develop training and mentoring supports in the midlands under Strand 2 of the Just Transition Fund.