Minister Ryan appoints Marie Donnelly as Chair and Professor Peter Thorne as member of Climate Change Advisory Council


The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has made new appointments to the Climate Change Advisory Council, following the conclusion of the statutory five-year term of the current Council.

Marie Donnelly, former Director General of the European Commission with responsibility for Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Innovation, has been appointed as Chairperson of the Council. Professor John Fitzgerald, outgoing chairman of the Climate Change Advisory Council, will remain on the Council as an ordinary member.

Ms Donnelly is a former Director for Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Innovation at the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission and oversaw the implementation of the main energy related Directives in the EU over the past decade. Since retiring, Ms Donnelly has been actively supporting Ireland’s energy transition through a range of voluntary positions in social, research and representative organisations.

Professor Peter Thorne is one of Ireland’s leading climate scientists and one of the lead authors of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Professor Thorne is a Professor in Physical Geography (Climate Change) at Maynooth University in Ireland and Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research UnitS group (ICARUS).

Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Director and Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, will also remain as an ordinary member.

Minister Ryan commented:

“I am very pleased to announce Marie Donnelly as the new Chairperson of the Climate Change Council and Dr Peter Thorne as a new member of the Council. Both possess impressive skill sets and a wealth of experience in climate and energy matters which will be extremely valuable in the enhanced mandate of the Council, which will include advising on carbon budgets.

I am delighted that Professor FitzGerald will continue as a member of the Council given his wealth of expertise and his role as chair of the Council for its first term. I am very grateful to John and to the outgoing members of the Council for their work over the last five years in establishing the Council as key advocate for action and ambition in the development and implementation of Ireland’s climate policy.”

Minister Ryan will formally  appoint the remaining Advisory Council members, to give effect to the provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, on completion of the Bill’s passage through the Oireachtas. Further appointments will include experts in relation to biodiversity, just transition, sustainable transport, and climate communications amongst other areas of experience.

The existing four ex-officio members of the Council; the Director General of the EPA, the Chief Executive Officer of SEAI, the Director of Teagasc and the Director of the ESRI will remain in place on the Council pending the passage of the Bill.

Minister Ryan noted:

In appointing members of the new council it is important to strike the right balance in terms of the range of expertise required, the continuing smooth functioning of the council and the need for gender balance.

The Council will be instrumental within the context of how we transition and achieve our climate ambition.  I believe that the new members announced today will be a great asset as part of this transition.”

The outgoing Council’s substantial body of work has included advising Government on climate policy development, assessing progress towards Ireland’s climate objectives, producing a statutory Periodic Review and Report and Annual Reviews, and participation in the 2018 Citizens’ Assembly on How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change.


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