Climate Change Adaptation

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) defines adaptation as "any adjustment in natural or human systems, in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli, or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities".

Effective measures directed at enhancing our capacity to adapt, and at minimising, adjusting to, and taking advantage of the consequences of climatic change (delivering adaptation actions) are required.

Adaptation measures can be taken at national, regional and local levels and include using scarce water more efficiently, adapting building codes to future climate conditions and extreme weather events, building flood defences and raising the levels of dykes, developing drought-tolerant crops, choosing tree species and forestry practices less vulnerable to storms and fires, and setting aside land corridors to help species migrate. 

What is the difference between Adaptation and Mitigation?

Adaptation, along with mitigation, is an essential part of addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with climate change.

Mitigation refers to our efforts to limit the man-made causes of climate change. Adaptation involves taking action so that we can be more resilient to our current climate, less susceptible to the impacts of future climate change and in a position to take advantage of opportunities.

Since the atmosphere is shared, mitigation action will typically have long-term, global benefits. Adaptation will most often have local, sector-specific benefits. There are often synergies and overlaps between mitigation and adaptation. For instance, planting trees in urban areas or restoring a peat-land has both mitigation and adaptation benefits.

Irrespective of the success of mitigation efforts, there will still be some degree of unavoidable climate change. This stems from our historic greenhouse gas emissions and the persistence of these gases in the atmosphere, as well as the slow warming of the oceans.

Ireland Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015

Ireland has many issues to address in response to climate change adaptation. The government has adopted the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill of 2015. Under this bill an expert advisory committee has been established to examine Ireland’s policies and actions to address climate change adaptation. Under the Bill, the government will also consult and publish a National Adaptation Plan.

More information from the European Commission click here.