New scientific report: "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented" action required to limit global warming to 1.5ºC


New scientific report: "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented" action required to limit global warming to 1.5ºC

Ireland needs to step up climate action dramatically to deliver Paris Agreement

October 8 2018, 06:43am

IPCC scientists deliver unequivocal evidence for the need to keep global warming below 1.5°C

Today [Monday 8 October], the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a special report which offers the most comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and the action needed to stay below this threshold. The IPPC says in a press release: "Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society." The report also proves beyond doubt that staying below 1.5°C will significantly reduce the damage of climate change, not just for the poorest and most vulnerable countries, but for Ireland and other developed countries as well.

Jennifer Higgins, Policy and Advocacy Advisor at Christian Aid Ireland, stated:

“This report clearly demonstrates that we can still limit temperature increases to 1.5°C, but to do so governments must act with urgency to bring about deep emissions cuts.   “Ireland, and the EU, must sign up to increasing their climate ambition by 2020 at this December's UN Climate Negotiations in Poland, and commit to sustainable pathways to staying below 1.5°C, while it is still possible.”

The IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5°C, launched at a press conference in Korea at 2am Irish Time on Monday 8th, is the most important climate science report of the decade. Ordered and endorsed by all states including Ireland, it shows that many of the dire consequences of future warming can be avoided by respecting this limit. The importance  of  this report lies in its assessment  of  current  knowledge  on  global and regional climate change. It provides new insights on the  impacts and  risks  at  1.5°C global warming above pre-industrial levels compared to 2°C or higher.

Phil Kearney, Chair of An Taisce's Climate Change Committee, said:

“This report sends a message of both urgency and hope. Keeping global warming to 1.5°C requires an unprecedented shift, a rapid and far-reaching change across energy, land, urban and industry sectors.   “1.5°C is still feasible, but only if policy makers act now. We need a fundamental shift from incremental to transformational change to have a more secure and sustainable future.”

Crucially, the IPCC report confirms that limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C is still possible and highlights potential policy and technical solutions and their links to overall sustainable development and poverty eradication.

John Sweeney, Professor Emeritus from Maynooth University, observed:

“While this landmark report confirms that avoiding a global temperature rise of more than 1.5oC represents an enormous challenge, the failure to face up to the challenge will mean the loss of many low lying island cultures and the displacement of many millions of people in places where they have not contributed significantly to climate change. Major extinctions of plants and animals will accelerate and weather related hazards will increase in frequency almost everywhere.

“For Ireland, overshooting 1.5oC would accentuate our emerging problems of climate extremes and damage the economic prospects of our current young people. The report confirms that only by undertaking radical steps today to decarbonise our societies can we leave a legacy of a sustainable world for the next generation.”


The IPCC report an related documents are here: 

The IPPC press release is here:

The Guardian Live coverage is here:

Notes for the Editor:

1. About the IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. It has 195 member states.


IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC assessments are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change. IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency. The IPCC assesses the thousands of scientific papers published each year to tell policymakers what we know and don’t know about the risks related to climate change. The IPCC identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community, where there are differences of opinion, and where further research is needed. It does not conduct its own research. Further information about the IPCC and Special Report on 1.5 degrees see here


2. CAN Europe’s infographic Costs of inaction on climate change that shows that climate-related extreme weather events already cost Europe dearly and that staying below 1.5C would significantly reduce the future costs

3. Stop Climate Chaos is the civil society coalition campaigning for Ireland to do its fair share to tackle climate change. The Coalition’s 33 members include overseas aid and development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations.

4. The Citizens’ Assembly’s May 2018 report on necessary climate action in Ireland is available here. This includes the Assembly’s 13 recommendations on ‘how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change’. These were agreed by the Assembly after four days of expert presentations in 2017 and following a major public consultation which received close to 2000 submissions.

5. The Stop Climate Chaos coalition called for the establishment of a dedicated Oireachtas Committee to take forward the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations on climate change, as was done with the Assembly report on the eighth amendment to the Constitution. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action has been established is currently meeting to deliberate on these recommendations and report on necessary policy improvements in January 2019. For information on the Committee’s current meetings, see here.

6. In January 2018 at the European Parliament, the Taoiseach responded to criticism of Ireland’s climate record and stated: "As far as I am concerned, we are a laggard. I am not proud of Ireland’s performance on climate change....There are lots of things that we intend to do so that we can meet those targets. It’s something that I am very committed to, and certainly my generation of politicians is committed to. It’s not just the right thing to do; it makes sense economically, I think, in the longer term as well."

7. In June 2018, analysisby Climate Action Network Europe put Ireland in second last place in the EU for action and ambition on climate change. Last year, the Climate Change Performance Index noted Ireland as being the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. The Index placed Ireland 49th out of 56 countries. -

8. In relation to weaknesses in Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan, see Irish Times interview with Minister Naughten here. See original analysis of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition here. See reports of the Climate Change Advisory Council hereand the European Commission here.


9. Ireland is the third highest producer of emissions per person in the EU, and eighth in the OECD with polluting emissions increasing by 3.7% in 2015. Ireland is one of seven EU Member States which is set to miss its 2020 emission reduction targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision. Ireland is also the only one of these seven States where emissions are predicted to continue to rise. See analysis from European Environment Agency here.