Just like the weather, Met Éireann's recently-introduced weather warning system has resulted in plenty of debate and discussion.

The aim of colour warnings, according to the Director of the National Meteorological Service, is to avoid confusion and mixed messages.

Eoin Moran told the Oireachtas Climate Change Committee that attention needed to be paid to red, orange and yellow weather warnings because they heralded the possibility of a high impact weather event. 

Met Éireann representatives were before the committee this afternoon to discuss their communication of climate change.

Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers put it to Met Éireann that there was huge confusion among the public over colour-coded warnings, resulting in the overestimation and underestimation of weather events.

Mr Chambers said on some digital platforms, weather warnings have become a sensationalist profile for media purposes around weather internationally.

Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack expressed concern over "spurious warnings" over which the Meteorological Service had no control. 

"We're very worried about it, we're studying it and I've personally contacted a number of the agencies who are issuing these warnings, totally without any meteorological background," she said.

Mr Moran told the committee that climate change is a reality.

The last four years were the warmest on record globally with the most pronounced warming in the Arctic temperature of the last five years 1.1°C above the pre-industrial era. 

Mr Moran said that 2018 was more than 0.4°C warmer than the average temperature from 1981-2010.

The question of how the issue of climate change could be communicated effectively to the public, was put to representatives of RTÉ

Director General Dee Forbes said efforts were being made to explore and discuss the issue from many perspectives.

However, during her opening statement she handed the mantle to elected representatives pointing out that if there was little by way of action on climate change in terms of legislative change, policy initiatives, parliamentary debate and business innovation, then there was less for the media as a whole to report on.

A number of TDs expressed frustration over RTÉ's lack of coverage on their climate change bills in the Oireachtas and on the broader issue of climate change. 

Managing Director of News and Current Affairs Jon Williams pointed out that on any one day News and Current Affairs is trying to balance a number of stories with a limited amount of air time, but Mr Williams assured the committee that RTÉ is committed to reporting the work of legislators. 

Representatives of both Met Éireann and RTÉ acknowledged the importance of their close working relationship, particularly during severe weather.

There were questions too over Ireland's wetter summers and increasingly mild winters leading to the emergence of daffodils ahead of snowdrops this month. 

The increasing frequency of extreme weather is unequivocal, according to Mr Moran.

One group aware of that reality is farmers. 

Representatives of Macra na Feirme went before the committee following the departure of Met Éireann and RTÉ. 

Its National President said the message that a reduction in farming activity would in turn reduce emissions was incorrect and "must stop". 

James Healy said Macra na Feirme disagreed with the Citizens' Assembly recommendation that a carbon tax be put on Irish agriculture. 

"It would be a blunt, counter-productive instrument diverting output to places where carbon emissions and costs per unit of food are higher", he said.

Mr Healy said climate change was a global issue and must be considered in such a context.