Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, has welcomed Northern Ireland's first Climate Change Bill and called its passing through the final stage of the Assembly an "historic moment".

Speaking after Stormont passed the legislation Poots, who brought forward the bill, 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 bill will commit Northern Ireland to a net-zero target by 2050, however Poots fought to ensure that the onus of said target will not fall overwhelmingly on the agricultural sector.

"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 [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], the CCC’s [Climate Change Committee's] Balanced Pathway recommendations and the ambition of the Paris Agreement," he said.

"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.