Climate Action: The needs of birds and biodiversity must be integrated into climate change emissions reduction plans
16th December 2015
BirdWatch Ireland welcomes the climate change agreement reached at COP 21 in Paris last weekend. Nearly 200 nations around the world, including Ireland, have agreed to hold 'the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change' (Article 2 of the Paris Agreement). We will need to decarbonise our world (meaning ending our use of fossil fuels and reduce other greenhouse gas emissions) by 2050 and this will mean significant changes to our transport, agriculture and energy sectors in the next 35 years and beyond. This is a defining moment for our planet and for Ireland and concrete action is critical if we are to reduce emissions urgently.
Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill was signed by the President of Ireland on 10th December 2015. This provides the legal framework for Ireland’s action and our targets will be decided in European Union negotiations over the next 6 months and beyond. The proof of our commitment will be in how our Government acts on climate change. We know that climate change is already impacting on birds through observed changes in range in some species. Emissions must be reduced nationally and internationally to stem further impacts on birds and humans (consider the awful flooding in the midlands!) However, the potential exists for plans to reduce greenhouse gases to also impact on birds and biodiversity and BirdWatch Ireland has been working to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
In early 2015 BirdWatch Ireland published a Bird Sensitivity Mapping Tool to help with the planning of renewable energy solutions so that they don’t impact on birds. We made submissions to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government on the National Climate Change Mitigation Plan to ensure that impacts on biodiversity are thoroughly assessed and eliminated. In relation to agriculture, we are seriously concerned about the potential impacts on birds and biodiversity caused by the current push for agricultural intensification, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions projected to increase as a result and also by the proposals to offset these emissions through intensification of non-native forestry plantation which will most likely be planted in less productive/marginal lands often the last refuge for biodiversity. You can check out our submission on Food Wise 2025, the most recent agriculture strategy here. Election time is coming soon, please use your voice to call for strong climate action for people and nature when candidates come to your door.