Northern Ireland’s new climate change bill aims for net zero by 2050

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Northern Ireland’s first ever Climate Change Bill is on its way of becoming a law after passing its Final Stage in the Assembly.

The Climate Change Bill (No. 2), which now seeks Royal Assent, introduces 2030, 2040 and 2050 emission targets for the country and includes provision for the appointment of a climate change commissioner.

Speaking following the Bill’s passing, Environment Minister Edwin Poots commented: “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.”

Mr Poots’ bill originally proposed a 82% reduction in emissions by 2050. However, the Assembly voted to amend that into a net zero target to bring Northern Ireland in line with other parts of the UK.

Mr Poots 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.”

Until now, Northern Ireland has been the only part of the UK without climate legislation.