DAERA’s draft Climate Change Bill moves to next stage

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Climate Change Bill has passed through the Executive today.

It’s a separate entity from the private member’s Climate Change Bill, which is currently at the Committee Stage.

One of the main differences between the two bills is that the department’s bill proposes an 82% reduction in Northern Ireland greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while the private member’s bill proposes net-zero by 2045.

Welcoming the bill’s passage, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said science-led, evidence-based and stakeholder-driven policy, was the “only way” for the region to achieve realistic, sustainable and achievable reductions in carbon emissions and play its part in mitigating climate change.

‘The right Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland’

Minister Poots said: “I am pleased that my draft Climate Change Bill has been agreed by my Executive colleagues. I now intend to move it swiftly to the next stage as my ultimate aim is to see my bill complete its legislative passage within the current Assembly mandate.

“We need a Climate Change Bill and targets that everyone can get on board with – my draft Bill is steeped in science, evidence and has received input and direction from stakeholders from across a range of sectors.

“I believe my Climate Change Bill is right for Northern Ireland and it is a balanced and sustainable Bill which has the right level of ambition and credibility.

“Current independent scientific evidence and advice from the UK Climate Change Committee is clear – a just transition to a low carbon economy can be achieved in Northern Ireland via a balanced pathway to UK-wide net-zero by 2050.

“This can be achieved through the highly ambitious but achievable target, set within my bill, of an at least 82% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Northern Ireland by 2050.

“This is a target that the UK Climate Change Committee have advised is a credible and fair contribution by Northern Ireland that delivers on UK net zero and the commitments of the Paris Agreement accord. The UK Climate Change Committee’s chair Lord Deben has went further to say that setting a target which we in Northern Ireland cannot reach would be ‘morally wrong’.”

‘Time is of the essence’

Minister Poots added: “The bill has a strong focus on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and puts in place a legal regime and basis for Northern Ireland policy-makers and decision-makers to build upon.

“The UK Climate Change Committee has said that to meet the challenging targets, policy needs to be developed and implemented in the 2020s and early 2030s.

“Time is therefore of the essence which is why it is so important to deliver this bill within the current mandate. I will, therefore, move this bill to the next stage as quickly as possible and introduce it to the Assembly before the summer recess.”