Last update:10 Apr 2018

Item Status Links
National adaptation strategy

Non-Statutory Framework adopted

Legislation enacted

Statutory Framework in development 

Action plans

Sectoral Adaptation Plans in development

Local authority plans in development

Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments National Vulnerability Assessment
Research programs EPA Research Programme (Climate Pillar)
Climate services / Met Office Established
Web portal Established
Monitoring, Indicators, Methodologies In development
Training and education resources ongoing / in development

National Communication to the UNFCCC • Last National Communication Submitted

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government published a National Climate Change Adaptation Framework (NCCAF) in December 2012. The publication of the NCCAF was the first step in developing a comprehensive national policy position within which adaptation measures to address the impacts of climate change could be taken and planned. This non-statutory, but Government approved, framework mandated the development and implementation of sectoral adaptation plans and local government adaptation strategies which, together, would form part of the national response to the impacts of climate change.

The policy in relation to climate adaptation, first set out in the NCCAF, was subsequently restated in the National Policy Position on Climate Change (2014). The National Policy Position provides a high-level policy direction for the adoption and implementation by Government of plans to enable the State to pursue the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050 (known as the “national transition objective”).

The enactment on 10 December 2015 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 was an important milestone in establishing the national transition objective on a statutory basis and in order to facilitate this ‘transition’, the 2015 Act identified and provided for the development and submission to Government of national mitigation and adaptation plans. It also established the institutional and governance framework within which these plans can be developed and implemented on a cyclical basis. That framework identifies the key participants at sectoral level (i.e. relevant Government Ministers) and at local level (i.e. the local government sector) that will drive the adaptation effort. 

Under section 5 of the 2015 Act, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment must submit to Government for approval (not later than 10 December 2017), a National Adaptation Framework (NAF), which must be reviewed not less than once in every five year period. The NAF must specify the national strategy for the application of adaptation measures in different sectors and by local authorities in their administrative areas in order to reduce the vulnerability of the State to the negative effects of climate change and to avail of any positive effects that may occur. The 2015 Act also provides that relevant Ministers will be required to develop sectoral adaptation plans which will specify the adaptation policy measures the Minister in question proposes to adopt. 

The climate change functions of the former Department of Environment, Community and Local Government of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources  transferred to a newly configured Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, with effect from July 2016, reflecting the increasing priority assigned to dealing with climate change, including adaptation. The Department is now a central component of the climate change governance architecture, leading and co-ordinating national adaptation policy and supporting the implementation of the adaptation effort at national, sectoral and local government levels.

The Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) was established by Ministerial Order on 18 January 2016 under section 8 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. The Council, which is independent in the performance of its functions, provides advice and recommendations to, inter alia, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment in relation to the preparation of the NAF; the making by a relevant Minister of a sectoral adaptation plan; and the approval by the Government of a NAF. In addition, the Council has a number of reporting obligations, including with regard to ‘Annual’ and ‘Periodic Reviews’ of progress towards meeting the national transition objective; it also established an Adaptation Committee in 2016 to focus specifically on adaptation related matters.






12 sectors were identified in the National Climate Change Adaptation Framework (NCCAF): Water, Emergency Planning, Marine, Agriculture, Forestry, Biodiversity, Heritage, Transport, Energy, Communications, Flood Defence and Health. 

The statutory National Adaptation Framework (NAF), which is currently being developed by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, will identify the sectors and lead Departments that will be required, subject to Government approval, to prepare sectoral adaptation plans in line with the requirements of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act. The preparation of non-statutory plans under the NCCAF is  progressing and outputs from that work will form the basis of the  statutory requirements that will come into force, following government approval of the NAF. The work undertaken under the NCCAF and the lessons learned from it will form an important input into the development of the NAF. This may also include a revision of some of the sectors identified in the NCCAF.

The Office of Public Works has completed  its flood defence sectoral adaptation plan. The plan;

  • outlines existing flood risk and flood risk management practice in Ireland;
  • summarises existing science on climate change and the current state of knowledge for impacts on flooding and flood risk in Ireland;
  • defines the policy for adaptation in the flood risk management sector;
  • sets out a series of actions to enhance the understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on flooding and flood risk and to embed adaptation into flood risk management practice;
  • identifies how changing flood risk should be taken into account in spatial planning and other sectors; and
  • sets out what is required for the monitoring, review and evaluation of the plan.

The current Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme (see is the mechanism through which many of the actions will be implemented, including embedding adaptation into the development of capital projects and the long-term of flood risk management in Ireland. The future scenario flood maps produced under the CFRAM Programme will facilitate this approach, inform other sectors, and provide a valuable resource for local adaptation planning and sustainable land use management and planning.

 Sectoral adaptation plans covering the Agriculture, Forestry, Transport and Energy sectors are at an advanced stage of development under the NCCAF.

Development work on the statutory NAF is progressing and is being coordinated by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment through a national adaptation steering committee. The committee is chaired by the Department and includes membership from the relevant sectors as well as the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, EPA and the local government sector. Work generally on the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy by 2050 is overseen by Government through a hierarchy of committees and sub-groups, with independent advice from the Climate Change Advisory Council, as appropriate.  These committees and groups include the Cabinet Committee and Senior Officials' Group on Infrastructure, Environment and Climate Action, a Technical Research and Modelling Group and a Domestic Climate Finance Group

A new National Planning Framework (NPF) is currently being developed. It will provide a framework for national spatial planning, pulling together relevant Government policies and investment on national and regional development. It will have a focus on economic development and investment in housing, water services, transport, communications, energy, health and education infrastructure. The NPF will set out to address climate change issues in the context of physical planning at a national scale including greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation and resilience. 

Research on climate change impacts and adaptation is mainly supported and coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency (, through its Research Programme. The aim is to support and inform adaptation planning and decision making at national, sectoral and local levels. Research objectives include:

  • the improvement of future climate projections;
  • identification of vulnerabilities and risk;
  • the development of adaptation options to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and take advantage of any opportunities that might arise.

Ireland participates in the Joint Programming Initiative, JPI Climate, and is an active participitant in the ERANET for Climate Services (ERA4CS). The Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry is a member of the FACCE JPI on agriculture.

Ireland is linked to the EU/European Space Agency (ESA) initiative on Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO-GEOSS) initiative.

Ireland joined the ESA Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP) in 2008. It provides opportunities to enhance international collaboration and build capacity in regard to analyses of satellite data for local and large scale environmental and climate change applications.

a. Observations and projections

The Irish Meteorological Office, Met Éireann ( is the leading provider of weather information and related services for Ireland.Met Éireann maintains the national network for atmospheric/terrestrial observations to support this function.

In collaboration with the Irish Marine Institute it also maintains the operational Irish Marine Buoy Network which provides observations on sea state / temperature and surface weather. Some support is also provided by E-SURFMAR – the Surface Marine Programme of EUMETNET (the Network of European Meteorological Services).

A number of other organisations carry out measurements of land-based and hydrological variables. The most important of these organisations are the EPA, which oversees land-cover mapping and coordinates certain hydrological measurements such as groundwater and lake levels, and the Office of Public Works which has an extensive river flow monitoring network.

The State of Ireland's climate observing system has been documented (Dwyer, 2008, 2012) and an action plan to assist the development of a comprehensive, reliable and sufficient national climate observing system has been prepared (Dwyer, 2009).

Projections of climate change in Ireland for 2050 and 2100 utilise outputs from Global Climate Models (GCMs). These are downscaled using both dynamic and statistical approaches. New global model simulations carried out in Ireland by Met Éireann (2013) provide an update on the expected changes in the Earth's climate over the 21st Century. Regional Climate Models were run at high spatial resolution, maximum of 4 km, thus allowing for a better evaluation of the potential local effects of climate change (Nolan, 2015).

Ireland has contributed to the scientific development of theglobal climate model (EC-Earth), performing centennial-scale simulations with the model and contributed data to CMIP5 for assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in AR5.

b. Impacts & vulnerability assessments

Analysis of potential climate change impacts for Ireland is summarised in the State of Knowledge Report (Desmond et al., 2009) and in Climate Ireland (. on specific impacts are included the Hydrodetect project (Murphy et al., 2013), which identified a reference river flow network for monitoring and detecting climate driven changes in Irish river flows.  A Phenology study (Donnelly et al., 2012) showed that the warmer Irish climate has led to a change in the seasonal cycle of a range of plant and animal species.

Some sectors have independently begun the process of identifying key vulnerabilities for their activities.  The report by the Irish Academy of Engineering, Ireland at Risk Critical Infrastructure – Adaptation for Climate Change (The Irish Academy of Engineering, 2009) and the report by the Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland (the National Tourism Development Authority), Climate Change, Heritage and Tourism, Implications for Ireland's Coast and Inland Waterways (ed. Kelly and Stack, 2009) are examples of initiatives of this kind. 

Other research work on adaptation in specific sectors has been carried out or commissioned by other Government Departments/bodies such as the OPW, CoFoRD (programme of competitive forest research for development research programme, etc. (e.g. CLIMADAPT).

A National Climate Change Vulnerability Scoping study (Sweeney and Coll, 2012) was undertaken to identify first generation vulnerabilities for Ireland based on a sensitivity analysis across key sectors. The analysis identified a clustering of impacts and their importance in relation to an assessment of likely resilience by sector. The assessment methodology used was an impacts-first, science-first classical approach. The priority sectors identified are: biodiversity and fisheries; water resources and the built coastal environment; forestry and agriculture.  As each sector develops its sectoral adaptation plan (under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015), detailed vulnerability and risk analysis will be required.  Some preliminary work has been undertaken on costing the impacts of climate change in Ireland (McDermott, 2016). This is now being supported by more detailed analysis of the current and future costs of flood risk management.

The implementation of adaptation is being supported by the development of a suite of guidelines, tools and approaches. These include the Local Authority Adaptation Strategy Development Guideline (Gray, 2016); and the Irish climate information platform “Climate Ireland”, which includes data, information, tools and approaches for local level adaptation decision making. Work is ongoing to develop sectoral decision making tools and supports.   

The EPA is currently funding a research project called Urb-Adapt which aims to identify the impact of climate change on Dublin city and surrounding towns within the greater Dublin region. The project aims to identify possible risks to the population living in that area and future risks posed to it by the changing climate. The project is divided into 2 key strands, water and heat.

c. Research

A large body of research has been undertaken by various agencies and sectors within Ireland with the specific objective of informing policy and decision making on mitigation of GHG emissions and climate change adaptation.  Progress under the NCCAF has been heavily dependent on scientific data and outputs provided primarily by the EPA's Climate Change Research Programme (now the Climate Pillar under the EPA's Research Programme), and others such as Met Éireann, Marine institute, DAFM, CoFoRD, OPW and National Universities. This is expected to continue in support of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and the implementation of actions across sectors and down to the local authority level.

The EPA's Climate Pillar is based on four thematic research areas and a coordination structure hosted by the EPA. Under a sub theme of Future Climate in Ireland, Impacts and Adaptation, research is progressed under the following headings:

  • Observations, monitoring and analysis;
  • Modelling of future climate;
  • Impacts, risk and vulnerability assessment;
  • Adaptation information and responses.

Currently,  research is focused on supporting the implementation of the Climate Act,, responding to requirements set out under the EU Adaptation Strategy (2013) and international reporting requirements under the UNFCCC.  In the longer term research will focus on assisting key economic and policy sectors to become more resilient to climate change.

 A Climate Services approach is being taken to delivering on stated objectives.  Irish researchers are actively engaged in international consortiums such as JPI Climate and H2020 in pursuit of these goals.

Research in this area is guided by a national level steering group, which includes a broad level of stakeholders from Government agencies, universities, sectors, private sector and NGOs.

d. Monitoring Progress. Effectiveness/efficiency

Under the NCCAF, provision was made for a periodic review of sectoral and local level plans and the allocation of reporting responsibilities and the statutory NAF will also provide for a regime to measure and evaluate progress on adaptation. This process is being supported by a research project being undertaken by University College Cork, which will develop a framework and set of indicators to assess Ireland's preparedness for adaptation at the national, sectoral and local level. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 requires that an approved National Adaptation Framework is reviewed at least once in every 5 year period. At the end of the review process, the Government will then request sectoral Ministers to prepare new Sectoral Adaptation Plans. The Climate Act also requires an annual transition statement to be made to Parliament on Ireland’s progress towards achieving the goals set out in the National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development. This will also include updates from Sectoral Ministers on the implementation of their sectoral plans. The first annual transition statement will be presented to Parliament before end 2016.   



a. Governance

Sectoral coordination is taking place by means of the sectoral adaptation steering committee that's chaired by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The role of the Committee is to provide advice and guidance to the sectors identified in the non-statutory National Climate Change Adaptation Framework (NCCAF, 2012) in relation to the development of their sectoral adaptation plans.

Sectoral co-ordination is overseen by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment through a national adaptation steering committee. The committee is chaired by the Department and includes membership from the relevant sectors as well as the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, EPA and the local government sector. Work on the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy by 2050 is overseen by Government through a hierarchy of committees and sub-groups, with independent advice from the Climate Change Advisory Council, as appropriate.New or revised governance structures may arise following the completion of the statutory National Adaptation Framework which is in development

Transboundary co-operation with the Northern Ireland Devolved Government and ‘Climate Northern Ireland' is on-going on an ad-hoc basis with a view to understanding areas of commonality, sharing of experiences and best practices.

Mayors Adapt – the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy has been set up by the European Commission to engage cities in taking action to adapt to climate change. In Ireland, both Dublin City and Cork County have signed up to this initiative.

b. Adaptation capacity, dissemination, education, training

The final phase of Ireland's Climate Information Platform Project (ICIP), or Climate Ireland ( ) is being developed by University College Cork, under the EPA's Research programme. The objective of the platform is to support adaptation decision making at all levels, including the general public. As part of the project’s third and final phase of development the functionality of the platform is being enhanced through the provision of greater data analysis and additional decision support tools.

Local level planning for adaptation has been supported through the provision of local adaptation strategy development guidelines. The guidelines, which were prepared under the climate pillar of the EPA Research Programme describe a six-step methodology based around the adaptation planning cycle that is tailored towards the local authority sector in Ireland. They stress that the local adaptation strategy development process must include a structured programme for the engagement of stakeholders from within the local community, relevant NGOs and state sector bodies. The guidelines are complemented by an online decision support tool which available on ‘Climate Ireland' ,which is aimed at supporting adaptation practitioners to implement the adaptation planning process outlined in the guidelines.  The EPA has also published a guidance document on climate proofing Strategic Environmental Assessment. A programme of capacity building and training measures aimed at decision makers and adaptation practitioners within the local authority sector is ongoing and includes training seminars and workshops.

Sectoral specific guidelines are also being prepared to help sectors required to prepare sectoral adaptation plans.

The Irish Government has committed to establishing a National Dialogue on Climate Change that will involve extensive public consultation. This will incorporate the key infrastructural, land use and economic issues to be considered in our long-term transition to a new low carbon and climate resilient future.

The EPA climate change adaptation research pillar engages with stakeholders through a national level steering committee since 2009. The aim of the group is to address national impacts, adaptation and vulnerability needs.

Knowledge transfer activities (e.g. science/policy interfaces) between scientific-technical knowledge and decision and policymakers occurs when research reports are published and disseminated. Key findings are accompanied by press releases and also research dissemination seminars. Science/policy interface also occurs through the research and through the sectoral adaptation steering group, Climate change features in the education curriculum at 2nd and 3rd level. A number of Universities include climate change adaptation at Msc. level.


National coordinating institution:

National Contact point on Adaptation: Dr. John O’Neill, Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment,

Seosamh Ó Laoi, Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Environmental Protection Agency;






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