A month of ex­treme global weather has shown why we must act now

■ Last month sec­ond hottest ever

Irish Independent - - News - Paul Melia

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.

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