EPA Climate Change Conference

Date released: Jun 29 2010

The EPA is hosting a significant conference on climate change to address the key elements of the Copenhagen Accord, agreed at the December 2009 meeting of the UNFCCC, and to contribute to preparations for the forthcoming conference in Cancun, Mexico in November 2010.  The conference will be opened by Mr. Ciarán Cuffe, T.D., Minister of State for Planning, Sustainable Transport and Horticulture, with specialist sessions chaired by the Assistant Secretaries from the Departments of Environment, Transport and Finance.

Over 300 delegates have registered for the one day conference to be held at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin tomorrow (Wednesday 30th June 2010).  The conference will provide an overall perspective on some of the key challenges presented by climate change for Ireland, and explore developments in the climate science and policy arenas.  These include the important target of keeping the global temperature increase to below two degree Celsius (2oC) and a major financial package for developing countries to assist them with adaptation and mitigation actions.

Speaking at the conference, Dr Mary Kelly, Director General of the EPA said:

“The Copenhagen Accord was regarded as a disappointment by many, but it does include very important elements. It provides guidance for the negotiation process, as well as backing for a major financial package for developing country actions.”

Financial support is seen as a key element of a future climate deal including both public and private financing. The conference will hear from Dr Andrea Pinna of the European Investment Bank (EIB) about how the EIB will support climate funding. A specialist session on financial and market instruments will also consider funding for actions on climate change. 

Dr Kelly added, 

“There have been a lot of confused messages about climate change in the media. This conference will seek to bring clarity to this issue by looking at the science behind the 2oC target included in the Copenhagen Accord as well as recent debates on science.”

Dr Olive Heffernan will review some of the issues of communicating science via the popular media.  Dr Heffernan is the climate science editor of Nature, one of the most prestigious scientific journals which is read by many policy makers.

Dr Kelly continued, 

“Addressing climate change is an immense challenge and we don’t have time on our side. This is particularly the case with adaptation to climate impacts, where future climate has to be factored into long term investments and planning.”

A specialist session will focus on this issue and hear new analysis from recent research on extreme events in Ireland, as well as ongoing work on assessment of adaptation options.

The conference will showcase new research provided by projects funded under the EPA’s Climate Change Research Programme. The Programme, which is coordinated by the EPA, is linked to a number of other state agencies and government departments who support or fund climate change related research.

Dr Kelly explained,

“Our work on climate change research is a practical example of joined up thinking at government level.  This issue demands a coordinated response and that is what we are demonstrating here”.

In closing Dr Kelly said,

“Today’s conference provides us with a unique chance to explore opportunities for Ireland and for broad spectrum consideration of the key challenges that we face. Addressing climate change will require major socio-economic transformations for Ireland, Europe and the world. Participation at Assistant Secretary level in the Departments of Environment, Transport and Finance is very welcome.  This issue is something that we need to start seriously considering and we hope that this conference will contribute to this discussion.”

In conjunction with this conference, RTE will tonight air an Earth Horizon production on climate change.  In the programme, The Burning Question, Duncan Stewart explores public perceptions around this contentious issue, and speaks to scientists all over the world to gain an understanding of the story of Climate Change. The programme features interviews with Mary Robinson, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, David McWilliams, eminent Irish climate scientists and journalists, academics and others. The programme will be broadcast on RTE1 tonight at 10.10pm.

Further information: Niamh Leahy, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)