MLAs to debate DAERA Climate Bill next week

Stormont politicians are expected to debate Northern Ireland’s second proposed Climate Change Bill for the first time next week.

“The department has now formally laid the papers with the Assembly Business Office and there will be a debate scheduled in the chamber this Monday, September 20,” Stormont Agriculture Committee chairman Declan McAleer said, opening Thursday’s meeting.

The bill, officially titled Climate Change Bill (No.2), has been drafted by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and proposes an 82% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions, opposed to the heftier net-zero target proposed in the private member’s Climate Change Bill.

Green Party MLA Clare Bailey’s bill, Climate Change Bill (No.1), is currently at the Committee Stage, with the Agriculture Committee to receive further oral evidence on it this Thursday (July 8). Once it completes the Committee Stage, it will go back to the Assembly for further consideration.

The Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee continues to consider evidence regarding Climate Change Bill (No.1), with time for an informal deliberation pencilled into the schedule for Thursday, September 30.

The Second Stage involves a vote at the Assembly, which it must pass before it can go on to the Committee Stage and Further Consideration and a second vote before going forward for Royal Assent and becoming law.

What’s included in DAERA’s Climate Change Bill?

The department’s bill, Climate Change Bill (No. 2), proposes targets for a 48% reduction in Northern Ireland greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a 69% reduction by 2040, and an 82% reduction by 2050.

Reductions will be measured against the baseline year 1990 for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and 1995 for the four other gases monitored.

Unlike the private member’s bill, which does not allow targets to be changed once they are set, the department’s bill sees it retain the ability to amend both target years and percentages.

However, this must be done only following consultation with the UK Climate Change Committee and other Northern Ireland Executive departments.