Wexford Library focus on climate change

By David tucker

Published 29/12/2015 | 00:00

Wexford Library played host recently to a very informative and educational talk on the COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Former EPA Director Padraic Larkin and George Hussey, a climate specialist at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government put COP21 under the microscope.

The conference was seen as crucial because of the absolute necessity of securing a binding new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2°C.

Padraic opened the talk with a retrospective look at the whole issue of climate change. The first real acceptance of the presence of global warming as a consequence of human activities was seen early in the last century. Scientists were aware in the early 1900s that increased levels of CO2, Methane and Nitrous Oxide in the atmosphere might lead to global warming through the process of 'heat trapping'.

Fast-forward to the 1970s and we have experts acknowledging that there will be further global warming - a rise of 4 degree Celcius on pre-industrial levels is seen as being the worst case scenario.

One consequence of global warming is melting of the polar caps contributing to drastic increases in sea levels, anything up to five metres.

George Hussey took a different tack to Padraic in looking at the business of formulating and implementing agreements on climate change. George, a statistician in the Climate Policy Section of Department of Environment, and a member of the Irish delegation to COP21, is a battle-scarred veteran when it comes to such events.

He spoke of the protocol, the pecking order, the pleadings, the compromises, the frustrations and the late nights. And of how next morning you got up and did it all again!

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