A month of extreme global weather has shown why we must act now
■ Last month second hottest ever
LAST month was the second hottest June on record as “disastrous” rainfall in Japan claimed dozens of lives and much of the northern hemisphere, including Ireland, was hit with a prolonged heatwave.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said temperatures above northern Europe stretching from Ireland to southern Scandinavia were 3C to 6C higher than normal and that globally, June was the second warmest on record.
“High impact weather” resulted in more than 150 lives and 10,000 homes being lost in Japan as up to four times normal rainfall fell.
Meanwhile, last night, Japan and Taiwan were preparing for winds of up to 175kmh as Typhoon Maria made landfall.
By contrast, Oman saw average temperatures of 42.6C on June 28, “meaning the coolest overnight temperature did not drop below” this level.
This is believed to have been the highest average temperature recorded over a 24-hour period.
The weather station at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California, hit 52C on Sunday, while “dozens” of deaths were recorded in Quebec as some parts of eastern Canada, including Newfoundland, experienced snow.
The WMO said episodes of “extreme heat and precipitation” were consistent with general long-term warming trends due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Many recent studies have found that the probability of the extreme event has been influenced by human activity, either directly or indirectly,” the organisation said.
Globally, average temperatures have risen 0.8C since the industrial age and the WMO report comes after the Dáil Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment heard that banning offshore fossil fuel exploration was needed to reduce dangerous emissions.
The Climate Emergency Measures Bill, proposed by People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, proposes a complete ban on offshore exploration but is opposed by the Department of Communications, Gas Networks Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
The committee heard that natural gas was needed as a “transition” fuel as the economy moved to a lowcarbon future and that banning exploration would leave Ireland reliant on imported gas, at risk of losing supply and, if passed, would not reduce emissions.
But the SEAI warned that under existing policies, which did not include the impact of the €21.8bn climate measures set out in the National Development Plan, Ireland would be 47-52 million tonnes above allowed emissions by 2030.
Greg Muttitt, of Oil Change International, said that there was an excess of fossil fuels in the energy system and that utilising existing, proven resources would result in “dangerous climate change”.
Ms Smith said: “This bill sets out that we need to do something decisively and now, and stop waiting for future generations to do something on global warming.
“We don’t get a second bite of the cherry.”
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Frank Clarke said clearer environmental legislation was needed or projects could “suffer” by being held up in the legal process.
He was speaking after technology giant Apple said it would not go ahead with a data centre in Athenry which was delayed by the planning and legal process.