Clare Bailey - ‘We have listened to farmers, that’s why we have submitted amendments’

Leader of the Green Party NI, Clare Bailey, has said they have listened to farmers, and that’s why they have submitted amendments to the executive’s Climate Change (No2) Bill.

Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Ulster earlier, Ms Bailey said she is “delighted” that Net Zero got “such support on the floor yesterday, with 50 MLAs voting for that”.

However, she said she was not celebrating just yet, as there is still a “ long way to go” with Edwin Poots’ bill.

Ms Bailey said her focus right now, is “getting more amendments passed today”.

“We have a lot of other issues to look at, it’s not just about the headline targets, but it’s about independent oversight, it’s about having just transition, it’s about tackling what the agriculture sector need in terms of a just transition fund specifically for them as well.

“So let’s get a look at what we can do to shape up and make the executive and the minister’s bill a lot stronger and see where we are with the Private Member’s Bill after that one.”

The South Belfast MLA said they have listened to farmers.

“For seven months or more at committee stage, we have been taking evidence from all stakeholders, and farmers and agri-food sector have had extensive engagement in that time,” she said.

“We have listened and that’s exactly why we have submitted amendments to the bill to set up a specific just transition fund for agriculture and we have modelled that exactly as the Scottish government have done as well.

“We know that the agriculture sector in Northern Ireland is our highest emitter.

“That’s not because of farmers, and that’s not because farmers are just not engaging with climate debate, that’s absolutely not true.

“We know that farmers want to do better, but what we have is a system of economic incentives from government policy that forces them into the practices that they’re doing.

“We have known this for a very long time.”

Ms Bailey said they also know that Northern Ireland, despite being a very small region with a small population, emits more than china.