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Plea for more funds as climate scientists forge all-island alliance

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A member of Extinction Rebellion Red Rebel Brigade takes part in a protest during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

A member of Extinction Rebellion Red Rebel Brigade takes part in a protest during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

A member of Extinction Rebellion Red Rebel Brigade takes part in a protest during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Climate change research is starved of support in Ireland with inadequate and uncertain funding hampering progress, one of the country’s foremost climate scientists has said.

Professor Peter Thorne said projects were cut short when funds ran out and Science Foundation Ireland, the national science body, had no dedicated facilities or supports for climate research.

Prof Thorne of Maynooth University, one of the authors of last August’s landmark UN climate report, made his comments as the Taoiseach prepared to jointly launch a new all-Ireland alliance of climate and biodiversity academics and institutes.

The All-Island Climate and Biodiversity Research Network is an initiative by academics who are fed up competing for scarce expertise and funding.

“The climate and biodiversity crisis brings wickedly complex problems and they require us to work together,” said Prof Thorne.

“This network has been started by academics from north and south, from across institutions and disciplines to try to create the space and the opportunity to look at these crises on a sustained basis, on the fundamental philosophy that we’re stronger working together than apart.”

But he said the initiative would require a “rethink” in how climate research was supported.

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“We need to recognise that these are very long-term high-priority actions. We require to train, retain and build expertise in these areas, which means the fundamental model of funding would need to be reconsidered

“Climate and biodiversity doesn’t have a space in SFI (Science Foundation Ireland) research centres and it tends to be funded as piecemeal desk studies, so it means you get a PhD or postdoc researcher in for two or three years and then you wave goodbye to them because there’s no sustained funding.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will jointly launch the initiative today with Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and a funding announcement is expected to be made.

Mr Martin said climate change and the loss of biodiversity was a challenge shared by all on the island.

“It requires collaboration, research and innovation across all sectors,” he said.


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