15/04/2002

Report shows climate changes to coastal areas “inevitable”

The Minister of the Environment, Dermot Nesbitt, has said he is concerned that not enough people are aware about the impact ecological climate changes could have on their livelihoods.

Mr Nesbitt said: “Some degree of climate change is now inevitable as a result of past and present emissions of greenhouse gases and we will need to take steps to adapt.

“I am concerned that the researchers have identified there is a generally low awareness and concern about climate change. All aspects of the public and private sector could be vulnerable and it is vital to bring the potential impacts of climate change to the attention of everyone – be they farmers, fishermen or families.”

Mr Nesbitt’s comments were made following the publication of a DOE commissioned study 'The Implications of Climate Change for Northern Ireland’. The report, in conjunction with the Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) shows that Northern Ireland’s coastline will experience rapid change over the next century. The report also notes many interested parties are largely unaware of how this will affect society in coastal areas. The report shows that fishing communities and those dependent on sport angling will be most affected.

The risk of more frequent and severe flooding of vulnerable areas of Belfast and Londonderry will increase under climate change the study also shows.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the UK is committed to cutting emissions of six greenhouse gases by 12.5 per cent (by 2008/2012 based on 1990 levels). In addition, the UK government set a domestic goal of a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010, again on a 1990 baseline.

To achieve this the UK has published a Climate Change Programme which covers a wide range of fiscal, regulatory and presentational policies.

A Northern Ireland chapter is included in the Programme, confirming the north's commitment to the Programme and sets out action being taken.

Mr Nesbitt added: “I welcome this Report as a first step towards developing a Northern Ireland strategy for climate change impacts. It will enable people here to play a full role in the policies for climate change currently being developed on a UK, European and worldwide basis.”

It is anticipated that a more detailed programme of research will be developed, in conjunction with stakeholders, over the next few years in order to determine precisely the adaptation measures necessary in Northern Ireland. (AMcE)

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