Climate Change Advisory Council: Exactly who sits on it?

A guide to influential representatives from science, academia, business and unions

The Climate Change Advisory Council will change the State's politics, and the lives of millions as Ireland finally begins to tackle its over-production of environmentally damaging carbon dioxide and other harmful gases

Already, its influence has been compared to the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), though it will last for far longer than the body led by chief medical official Tony Holohan.

This week it has published carbon budget proposals setting out greenhouse gas emissions cuts for the next 15 years. The Government is expected to adopt and implement them – or at least try to do so.

So who are the members of the council which drew up the plans?


Chairwoman: Marie Donnelly

Marie Donnelly worked at the European Commission for three decades, finally serving as its director of renewables, energy efficiency and innovation. Since retiring, Donnelly has been active on the climate change agenda, as a member of the governance committee of MaREI – Science Foundation Ireland's centre for energy, climate and marine research – and as also a member of the advisory board of the UCD Energy Institute. She is a senior adviser in Brussels to communications agency Hume Brophy. Before joining the European Commission she was a director of the Federation of Irish Chemical Industries and she previously worked as an executive with the Kerry Group.

Laura Burke

Director general of the Environmental Protection Agency Laura Burke graduated from UCD as a chemical engineer before completing a MSc course at Trinity College Dublin. She chairs the European Environment Agency (EEA) management board.

Prof John FitzGerald

Trinity College Dublin economics professor John FitzGerald severed as CCAC chairman from 2016 to 2021. He is a former research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and retains links to the body.

Prof Ottmar Edenhofer

A professor of the economics of climate change, Ottmar Edenhofer is the director and chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He has served as a co-chair of a working group of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Patricia King

Patricia King is the general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. She is a former vice-president of Siptu where she was a full-time official for more than 25 years. She was a lead negotiator in the Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements.

Andrew Murphy

An observer to the 2015 Paris climate conference, Andrew Murphy is a director at Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based sustainable transport non-governmental organisation, heavily focusing on aviation emissions.

Julie Sinnamon

Former Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon worked with that agency and previously IDA Ireland for 30 years. She was recently appointed to the board of Irish builder Cairn Homes. She chairs the European Movement Ireland, co-chairs the Balance for Better Business and is also a director of PwC Ireland Public Interest Body, the Agricultural Trust, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Prof Peter Thorne

Peter Thorne is the director of the Icarus climate research centre at Maynooth University. He has worked on IPCC reports and is chair of the Global Climate Observing System's Atmospheric Observations Panel for Climate.

Prof Frank O’Mara

Frank O'Mara took up the role of director of Teagasc, the State's agriculture and food development authority, at the start of October. He is an agricultural scientist and sustainable livestock systems specialist and has also worked as a lead author on an IPCC working group report.

Eoin Moran

Eoin Moran is the director of Met Éireann. He serves as Ireland's permanent representative to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and is the vice-president of European weather satellite agency EUMETSAT.

Dr Cara Augustenborg

A honorary member of President Michael D Higgins' Council of State, Dr Augustenborg is an environmental policy fellow at University College Dublin. She has served as chairwoman of Friends of the Earth Ireland and she presents the environmental Newstalk show Down to Earth with Cara Augustenborg.

Jillian Mahon

Independent business and financial consultant Jillian Mahon works in an advisory capacity in the public and private sector in Ireland and elsewhere within the EU. She previously held senior roles at the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and before that had a career in capital markets banking, holding the role of treasurer in AIB.

Prof Morgan D Bazilian

Morgan D Bazilian is the director of the Payne Institute and professor of public policy at the Colorado School of Mines – a university focused on science and engineering. He was previously lead energy specialist at the World Bank, and a senior diplomat at the United Nations. He has been a lead negotiator for the EU at the UN climate negotiations.

Sinead O’Brien

Sinead O’Brien is the co-ordinator of the Sustainable Water Network (Swan), which includes 25 environmental organisations working to protect water and wetlands. She holds an honours degree in zoology from UCC, has led Swan from its inception in 2004 and is an expert in water policy.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times