Agriculture committee publishes its report on Climate Change (No.2) Bill
The assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee has published its report on the Climate Change (No.2) Bill.
This bill is being brought forward by the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and is one of two pieces of climate change legislation examined by the AERA committee.
While the committee have agreed that the bill should move to the next stage of the legislative process, they have introduced a number of “important amendments”.
One such amendment is that the overall emissions target must state specifically that there will be a net-zero carbon dioxide position in 2050, as part of the overall 82 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases.
Committee chairperson, Declan McAleer MLA, explained: “This is in line with advice provided by the UK Committee on Climate Change.
“The committee also recommended that changes to target years and percentages can only be amended by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to make them more ambitious.”
Speaking after the publication of the report, Mr McAleer said: “Climate change remains one of the biggest issues we face, both on a global and local level.
“While we all agree that we must enact dedicated climate change legislation, there are differences of opinion about the most appropriate emissions target and the scope of future climate change legislation here.
“As with the Climate Change (No.1) Bill, it was crucial for the committee to hear from as many people as possible and we were delighted that more than 1,000 stakeholders gave us their views.
“While we have now agreed that the bill should move to the next stage of the legislative process, we have introduced a number of important amendments.”
Outlining the other amendments, he said: “We have recommended the establishment of a ‘Just Transition’ principle to ensure that adequate financial, training and advisory support schemes are put in place across all executive departments to ensure that industries are assisted in moving towards a greener economy.
“The committee has also proposed that executive departments and public bodies will be required to consider aligning policies with those already in place in the United Kingdom, Ireland and elsewhere when developing climate change strategy here.”
He added: “A further important amendment will place a legal requirement on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to complete a consultation on the potential options for facilitating a locally-based entity that will provide climate change advice and oversight within two years of the bill coming into law.
“The committee understands the fundamental importance of climate change legislation which will have profound effects for all of us.
“We also acknowledge the strongly held views on the proposed emissions targets.
“It is, therefore, important that all elected members have the opportunity to debate these issues in full at the next legislative stage,” Mr McAleer concluded.