Researchers in Ireland to pool expertise with climate and biodiversity network

9 Nov 2021

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‘Failure is not an option,’ say Irish climate and biodiversity experts who are collaborating to brainstorm solutions to complex climate issues.

A new all-island climate and biodiversity research network (AICBRN) is being launched today (9 November) by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Northern Ireland deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill.

The launch comes just days after Martin delivered Ireland’s address at the COP26 climate conference. There, he outlined Ireland’s climate targets, including cutting methane emissions by 30pc, increasing financial commitments to help developing countries tackle the climate crisis and reversing deforestation significantly by 2030.

The researcher-led AICBRN will be open to all researchers across the island of Ireland, with the aim of tackling the climate and biodiversity crises.

“The climate and biodiversity crises transcend national, disciplinary and sectoral boundaries,” commented Trinity College Dublin’s VP for biodiversity and climate action, Prof Yvonne Buckley.

“We all live on the same planet and urgently need to fulfil our international commitments to reducing greenhouse gases, while protecting and restoring the ecosystems that sustain our lives, livelihoods and wellbeing. Researchers from different disciplines across both jurisdictions on the island have grasped this challenge and are working together through the AICBRN to find those solutions,” she added.

‘Our shared environment is facing unprecedented pressures and the only realistic way of addressing the resulting impacts is to assess issues through joint approaches’

Prof Derek Jackson, a coastal geoscientist at Ulster University’s School of Geography and Environmental Sciences and specialist on how the climate crisis impacts coasts, added that there has “never been a more important time to pool our expertise and resources” to tackle a common problem.

“Our shared environment is facing unprecedented pressures and the only realistic way of addressing the resulting impacts is to assess issues through joint approaches and mitigation. This network is a sensible conduit through which we can achieve this,” he said.

The AICBRN will bring together climate experts from the physical and social sciences, as well partners in government, industry, regulators, NGOs and communities.

Its members are already working together on a range of projects focusing on areas such as biodiversity-rich renewable energy, low-carbon biodiversity-friendly agriculture, the blue economy, sustainable materials for future infrastructure and the creation of sustainable cities.

Prof Peter Thorne, director of the ICARUS climate research centre at Maynooth University and a core writing team member for the upcoming IPCC synthesis report, said his work had “starkly highlighted the real need for diverse expertise and perspectives to be bought together“ if we are to “solve the wickedly complex challenges before us”.

“Failure is not an option and I am excited to see colleagues from across the island stepping up to ensure Irish research plays its part and helps Ireland to respond.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.