Speaking ahead of his attendance at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, which commences today (Monday, November 1), Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, said "we must act now before it is too late".

Minister Poots said joining forces to tackle climate change, to create green jobs and to nurture opportunities through investment and innovation, must be our focus over the next decade.

“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time on a global scale. It must be recognised that we cannot continue with a ‘business as usual’ approach, we must act now before it is too late," he said.

We have all seen first-hand the effects of climate change and there are other numerous challenges ahead - reducing our emissions, improving air quality, tackling plastic pollution, achieving zero waste, and the development of a circular economy.

"The next decade must be one of urgent action, there is still time to make a difference, but we must act now and we must do it together.”

COP26 - a key opportunity

The minister continued:

With the UK hosting COP26, it is more important than ever that we lead by example in our actions to address climate change in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. This leadership must be shown at all levels, including by devolved administrations, local government, and across all sectors, businesses and industry."

Last week, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive, Minister Poots launched an eight-week consultation on the draft Green Growth Strategy for Northern Ireland.

This strategy will set out the long-term vision and framework for tackling the climate crisis by balancing climate action with the need for a clean, resilient environment and economy, according to the minister.

He said he looked forward to being able to promote this important strategy and the work already underway in Northern Ireland to tackle climate change on the global stage at COP26.

COP26 will be a key moment for all governments over the next fortnight and I will show that I am completely committed to tackling these issues head on.

“I look forward to engaging with local businesses at COP26 including Artemis, South West Regional College and Wrightbus, who will all have the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland and showcase the world-leading work we are doing on the global stage in Glasgow.

"I am also looking forward to engaging with international members of the Under2 Coalition which Northern Ireland was approved for membership of earlier this year”.