COP28 gets under way this week, with hundreds of leaders from across the world gathering in the United Arab Emirates to discuss climate action.

COP (Conference of Parties), will begin on 30 November and run until 12 December, and this year's summit is said to be the most expansive one in history.

During the meeting, each of the 198 participants (197 nations and the EU), will "take stock" of their progress on climate, as well as work with each other to develop solutions to future challenges.

This year’s agenda is focused on how the world can reduce its emissions by 22 gigatons before 2030.

Ahead of the summit, RTÉ invited its followers on social media to ask questions which it then put to a number of experts from University College Cork to answer.

Here's what they said:

Is there a way of effectively mapping climate change to see what areas are being affected?

By Researcher Chris Phillips

Mapping climate changes is increasingly achievable through advanced technology like Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

This tool allows for the mapping of various climate variables (e.g., temperature and precipitation), offering visual representations of how the climate has and will change.

Globally, efforts led by organizations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have developed innovative tools, such as the IPCC WG1 Interactive Atlas showcasing spatial and temporal analyses of climate change data. Institutions, including universities and national meteorological offices, leverage data from projects like the Climate Model Intercomparison Project for risk assessments and climate mapping.

At a national level, Ireland's TRANSLATE project, spearheaded by Met Éireann, standardizes future climate projections of climate change and utilises GIS to provide climate services (e.g., maps) tailored for decision makers.

Platforms such as Climate Ireland visually display climate change data for Ireland.

Irish Social Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards Index (ISVEHI) has been developed to map the distribution of hazards and informs climate action and risk reduction.

While current tools are valuable, ongoing work focuses on enhancing accuracy and detailing climate change impacts at finer scales.

What plans are in place to increase Ireland's renewable energy capacity?

By Senior Lecturer Paul Deane

Ireland’s plans for reducing greenhouse gas pollution and increasing renewable energy are set out in the Climate Action Plan.

Renewable energy accounts for approximately 40% of our electricity needs

Here the Government have plans to increase the amount of clean electricity generated by renewables such as solar, onshore, and offshore wind to meet approximately 80% of our electricity needs in 2030.

Today renewable electricity meets approximately 40% of our electricity needs across the year.

Could more hydrogen-powered vehicles be a climate solution?

By Paul Deane

Hydrogen is best used as a solution to problems electricity can’t solve.

Electricity is a more efficient and cost-effective form of clean transport, except for very heavy transport like big trucks or heavy machinery.

Will the impacts of farming and agriculture be discussed at COP28?

By Researcher Dr Róisín Moriarty

Farming and food systems will move from the sidelines to the main agenda at COP28.

Food systems are an important area for discussion as they;

1) contribute to climate change

2) are vulnerable to climate change impacts but also as they;

3) offer potential solutions to the climate crisis.

Alongside strong, rapid and sustained reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, deep reductions of methane from agriculture and land-use change, will be necessary to stay within 1.5°C.

During COP28 the Food and Agriculture Organisation will outline the transformation of farming and food systems that is needed to ensure that they become resilient, sustainable and equitable.

The benefits of a shift towards healthy, sustainable diets for people and climate action and the links between energy, climate, water and food systems will also be highlighted.

How many wind turbines does Ireland need to be to be carbon neutral?

By Paul Deane

About 4,500 turbines in total with a mix of onshore and offshore. Here is a report that is easy to read on this.

As a young person, will my generation and my kids be able to live comfortably and safely?

By Dr Róisín Moriarty

There are futures where people can live healthier and safer lives within the limits of nature.

Things that are required to achieve these potential futures include strong, rapid and sustained reductions in human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and urgent and ambitious adaptation actions.

Action is needed and action this decade is key.

Individuals acting alone can lead by example and make change happen, but it is the transformation of the energy, transport and food systems, for example, that can enable people to live low-carbon lifestyles.

Fundamental changes across the economy, society and environment will be necessary.

Such change can be brought around by collective action and social movements that signal to policymakers that people want urgent and strong action on climate change.

Working together to ensure ambitious climate action this decade is a key element of achieving a better future for all.

Why won't Ireland finance a wind farm off the Irish coast?

By Researcher Fiona Devoy McAuliffe

Ireland has just completed its first auction to support the development of around 3GW of offshore wind projects in the Irish Sea and one in the Atlantic Ocean.

These projects will now apply for planning and are expected to be built by 2030.

The next auction will focus on providing 900MW of projects on the south coast in the Celtic Sea and then further projects on the east coast to meet Ireland's targets of 5GW (and an additional 2GW of offshore wind for the development of green hydrogen) by 2030.

What has the Government implemented to combat climate change to date?

By Chris Phillips

Since 2015, Ireland has made significant strides in responding to climate change.

The Government enacted the National Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.

This legislation, supplemented the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, setting ambitious targets for achieving a competitive, low-carbon, climate-resilient economy by 2050.

Local authorities are developing roadmaps to try and hit climate goals

The Climate Change Advisory Council was established to provide guidance on the transition to a sustainable economy.

The National Adaptation Framework was established in 2018 and underwent review in 2022, with a draft expected soon.

Concurrently, the Climate Action Plan 2023 details a roadmap for achieving a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, aligning with the commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.

While local authorities are updating climate strategies and developing Climate Action Roadmaps to ensure alignment with national climate goals.

These comprehensive measures contribute expertise, evidence, analysis and investment needed to guide and drive climate action across Ireland.

Why aren't we using hydrogen engines?

By Paul Leahy, UCC H-Wind Project

Hydrogen engines are at an early stage of development.

Hydrogen fuel cells are more likely to be used in vehicles - they directly convert hydrogen into electricity.

These could be used for heavy vehicles or over long distances where batteries don't have enough storage capacity.

Policy is great. But action needs to be taken now. Is there anything that will start this year?

By Chris Phillips

Local authorities in Ireland are taking decisive steps toward climate action by establishing dedicated climate action teams.

Aligned with both national climate action plans and local authority-specific strategies, these teams are set to implement targeted actions.

Ireland has also joined the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance, signalling an end to new exploration activities for oil and gas, in line with global efforts to transition away from fossil fuels.

Local authorities have proactively drafted climate action plans, outlining commitments and roadmaps aimed at achieving a substantial 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

These plans are crucial in meeting the overarching national goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Additionally, significant sectoral efforts are underway to align with and contribute to Ireland's ambitious climate targets.

The introduction of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will further enhance carbon reporting requirements for qualifying companies, ensuring greater transparency and accountability in sustainability efforts.

Why is the implementation of renewable energy sources so slow in Ireland?

By Fiona Devoy McAuliffe

For offshore wind there has been a lot of uncertainty and a lack of clarity in the planning and development process.

These are being streamlined to improve and speed up deployment.