Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA hails Northern Ireland’s first ever Climate Change Bill as an historic moment for Northern Ireland.
The Minister was speaking after the Climate Change Bill (No. 2) passed its Final Stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Minister Poots said: “The Assembly’s agreement to my Climate Change Bill, which will become following Royal Assent, Northern Ireland’s first ever Climate Change Legislation, is an historic moment. Climate change is an issue that affects everyone in Northern Ireland and everyone on this planet. It requires people both at a global and local level to respond and we have a duty to take action to ensure our environmental footprint becomes less significant.”
The Minister continued: “I have been clear and consistent throughout this process that we should follow the advice of the experts and set targets on the basis of the evidence. Unfortunately, some compromise was necessary, but I have done my best to mitigate and offset negative and unfair impacts from these, to realign the Bill back to science and evidence and to ensure that it can be as legally effective as possible. Although this Bill sets a legally binding Net Zero target, it will not require a level of net methane emissions reduction of more than 46% by 2050, which is consistent with the advice from the IPCC, the CCC’s Balanced Pathway recommendations and the ambition of the Paris Agreement. This will ensure that the net zero ambition will not disadvantage our local food production and require our agriculture sector to shut down.
“Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and the value of our agriculture sector has been acknowledged, not only in terms of its economic contribution, but also for its contribution to the climate change agenda. Only by working together, towards a shared purpose and common goal, can we achieve the ambitions set out in this Bill.”
The Bill, which will now seek Royal Assent, will also create a scheme for the administration of a Just Transition Fund for Agriculture, which will provide advice and financial assistance to the sector to help it deliver its contribution under the climate action plan, as well as the establishment of a Just Transition Commission, which will oversee the implementation of the Just Transition elements of the Bill.
Concluding, Minister Poots said: “Climate change affects us all and all Northern Ireland Departments, the wider public and private sectors - and indeed all parts of our society - must play their part in helping to reduce emissions. This is not a one or two Department issue and these provisions will ensure that the need for all of us to act is enshrined in law. It is important that Green Growth and new technologies are adequately funded to meet the challenges.
“We must protect our environment in a sustainable way, whilst ensuring we continue to have a prospering and successful agriculture sector. The effects of climate change are wide-ranging and impact a number of sectors including our forests, infrastructure, water and energy sectors, we must therefore continue to work together to limit it’s impact.”
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