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All Change as Climate Threatens 20% of Native Plants

7 December 2007

A report suggesting that over 20 per cent of Ireland's native plant life are now under threat from climate change has been released in Dublin.

The research identified 171 species of flora that could be facing extinction by 2050. Warmer summers, wetter winters and more frequent and harsher storms could combine to wipe out scores of plants.

The study was carried out by director of the National Botanic Gardens Peter Wyse Jackson who also warned of the threat from invasive species and pests and diseases.

The report was launched as a €15 million campaign to raise public awareness about climate change and encourage industry to reduce its carbon footprint was unveiled by the Irish Government.

The five-year Change Now campaign is an integral part of the Government's National Climate Change Strategy which aims to bring Ireland in line with its Kyoto commitment to control greenhouse gas emissions.

At its core, the initiative aims to make the adoption of carbon management plans and green procurement policies a standard among industry and public sector organisations.

The initial part of the plan will include a nationwide advertising campaign to build an understanding of climate change and its potential impacts on Irish society and business.

The scientific evidence points clearly to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases as being the main cause.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said: "Climate Change is the greatest challenge of our time. The debate is no longer about whether it is happening or why it is happening."

"The scientific evidence points clearly to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases as being the main cause."

"Kyoto was always just a first step. The EU has undertaken to cut emissions further, to at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Ireland will play its full part in reaching this goal."

An European Union Commission report, released on Tuesday, predicted Ireland's emissions will be 22.6 per cent above 1990 levels by 2010.

But with the purchase of Kyoto credits and the use of "carbon sinks" through forests that soak up carbon dioxide, this will drop to 12.7 per cent, just inside Ireland's committed target rate of 13 per cent.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley said Change Now campaign will tap into the enormous wealth of human, intellectual, innovative and common-sense resources in Ireland.

"We all have a vested interest in succeeding in this objective and we all have a responsibility to play our part," he said.

"Doing nothing is not an option. Our only option is to change - change how we think about climate change and change our behaviour to quickly embrace the reality that we are living in a world in which emissions of greenhouse gases are being progressively restricted."

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