Impacts of Climate Change on Birds

Climate change is already affecting birds and their habitats. Climate change is an ongoing and intensifying threat to birds, biodiversity and human society and therefore its is taking on increasing focus within our conservation efforts.

Ireland’s birds are adapted to the stable climatic conditions that have predominated since the end of the last ice age. Climate change threatens to dramatically alter the climatic stability which underpins the population dynamics, life history traits and geographic ranges of many of our native bird species. Dramatic extreme weather events and rising sea-levels will have both immediate and long-term implications respectively for our bird populations. In many instances climate change will act synergistically with key drivers of biodiversity loss such as agricultural intensification and overfishing to push some of Ireland’s bird species closer to the brink of national extinction as breeding species.

In line with BirdLife international’s position in climate change we advocate for urgent, swift and decisive mitigation action. Our demand, maintaining global average temperature increase to less than 2°C, is based on scientists’ recommendations regarding what is a ‘safe’ amount of warming. Even this limit now looks too high, in the light of new evidence and urgent action is therefore needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with the recommendations of the international experts.

The biodiversity and climate crises are closely intertwined. It is imperative that when trying to address one we consider the potential negative impacts of one on the other. Ireland has a great opportunity to protect and restore biodiversity through active conservation measures which will also result in positive climate action. Protecting and restoring our wetlands, peatlands, native woodlands, and semi-natural grasslands has the potential to contribute to climate action by reducing emissions and improving carbon sequestration. Likewise ending overfishing and enhancing marine conservation efforts will have positive benefits for the resilience of marine ecosystems to climate change while also improving the carbon sequestration capacity of marine ecosystems.

We advocate for the Irish and EU authorities to work constructively with NGOs and civil society to deliver climate and biodiversity friendly strategies for our agriculture, forestry, fisheries and bioenergy industries. We also call on the authorities to ensure that the deployment of renewable energy is fully compliant with our obligations to protect and restore biodiversity on land and at sea.

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