Climate change costs us €2.9bn as agency warns of 'multiple hazards' in the future

Ireland is facing an increased risk of damage from winter storms along the Atlantic coastline, such as at Lahinch in 2014 Picture: PA

Paul Melia

Climate change-induced flooding and severe weather has resulted in economic losses of almost €3bn to the State since 1980, a major report reveals.

The European Environment Agency said that damages arising from global warming had cost EU members almost €400bn between 1980 and 2013, and warned that future damages would arise as average temperatures continue to rise.

Last year was the hottest on record as the world heated due to greenhouse gas emissions, with average global temperatures some 1C warmer than before pre-industrial levels.

The 'Climate change impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016' report warned that Ireland and other EU members faced the prospect of more severe impacts over the coming decades - with heavier rainfall, increasing the risk of river and coastal flooding, forecast for countries bordering the Atlantic, coupled with damage from winter storms and an increase in "multiple climatic hazards".

"Climate change is continuing globally and in Europe," it warned. "New record levels of some climatic variables have been established in recent years, notably global and European temperatures. Global climate change has substantially increased the probability of various recent extreme weather and climate events in Europe.

"The observed changes in climate are already having wide-ranging impacts on ecosystems, economic sectors and human health and well-being."

The report said that economic losses due to climate change across the EU stood at €392bn between 1980 and 2013.

For Ireland, the cost was put at €2.984bn. Of this, 53pc of damages were covered by insurance, and the remainder by the State. The cost per citizen was €774.

It also said wild fish stocks were affected, with mackerel and horse mackerel spawning earlier and further north on the Porcupine Bank, with commercial landings of fish identified as 'warm adapted' including grey gurnard, red mullet and hake increasing by 250pc since the 1980s.

"Europe could face a progressive increase in overall climate-related hazards from the 2020s to the 2050s and further to the 2080s," it said - driven by increases in heatwaves, rainfall, storms, rising sea levels and flooding on coasts and along rivers.

"By 2080, most areas in Spain, France, Italy, the Balkan countries, Bulgaria and Romania, but also in the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland, are projected to be affected by increases in the probability of hazard occurrence."

The report comes as news agencies reported that US president and climate sceptic Donald Trump had ordered the US Environment Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, which contains links to global warming research and detailed data on emissions.

Mr Trump has threatened to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to no more than 2C.