Trinity College is ‘leading the way’ in urging the Irish government to remodel its policy on Climate Change. During the recent International Conference of Climate Change and Systematics, the School of Natural Sciences challenged the government to take note of the serious problems facing Ireland.
Trinity College is ‘leading the way’ in urging the Irish government to remodel its policy on Climate Change. During the recent International Conference of Climate Change and Systematics, the School of Natural Sciences challenged the government to take note of the serious problems facing Ireland. The school is also currently working on two initiatives to increase student awareness and to improve Trinity College’s credentials on climate change. Professor Mike Jones, head of Trinity’s Department of Botany, urged Minister of State for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Michael Kitt to draw upon the 6th Scientific Statement of the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Committee on Climate Change – a pamphlet which presents statistics on the vulnerability of Irish species and habitats. Professor Jones also suggested that not enough has been done in the past around the Trinity campus to draw the student body’s attention to the issue.
During the three day conference, leading experts in the fields of climate, botany and systematics lectured on the issues of Climate Change. The centre-piece of the conference was the presentation of the 6th Scientific Statement to Minister Kitt. Introducing the conference, Provost John Hegarty praised the School of Natural Sciences for focussing the college community. He noted that people can become “overawed by the scale of the issue.” Professor Jones told Trinity News that the pamphlet’s purpose is “to inform the Minister about some of the most important issues in relation to the threats posed by climate change”. He hoped that the pamphlet would “aid the Minister in making important decisions on the government responses”. Despite previous initiatives around college, Professor Jones suggested that “more needs to be done” to make students aware and active on the issue of climate change, and that his department has “a crucial role in educating staff and students alike “. ‘Green Week’ has been running on campus for six years but has not been suffieiently prominent.
The head of Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, Professor John Parnell, told Trinity News that two initiatives will be running this year. “As an institution largely financed by Government, Trinity will be required to take action. A small group has been set-up to try to assess our current positions on Energy usage and Carbon neutrality, and, through co-operative working with the Director of Buildings Office, put together an overall plan for the School to improve both.” The School will also unveil a student-focussed initiative next month.
The first day of the conference focussed on statistics that portrayed a bleak picture of Ireland. They demonstrated that climate change is already having a significant impact on Irish species and habitats. Experts expressed that future damage is inevitable, predicting that by 2075 approximately 40% of the suitable climatic area of Irish peatlands will be lost. Meanwhile, new diseases such as bluetongue virus – which affects cattle and sheep – are likely to reach Irish shores in the near future.
The 6th Scientific Statement of the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Committee on Climate Change is available from www.ria.ie