‘Emissions targets must be achievable’

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said that any initiatives and regulation around climate change for Northern Ireland agriculture, must be extremely well thought out to prevent the industry being undercut with produce from countries with poorer environmental standards.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 1:01 pm

Mr Irwin, pictured, was speaking after the committee heard from Lord Deben the Chair of the Climate Change Committee on the way forward for Northern Ireland in helping the UK to net zero by 2050.

“It was very useful to hear from the Chair of the Climate Change Committee Lord Deben who brings to the table a wealth of experience of both the environment and indeed farming, which I commended him for in the meeting,” he said.

“I made the point that whilst there is a real importance around reductions in emissions and doing our bit in achieving these ambitious targets, we cannot on the other hand make our agri-food industry uncompetitive and open to vast undercutting from countries with much lower environmental standards and emissions targets.

“This is a critical part of any forward planning, as at the base of this all are hardworking farmers and industry stakeholders who have to consider the hard economics of any decisions made. Any investments must be well thought out and of course affordable to ensure that we retain a competitive edge.”

He concluded: “Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry is one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland and one of the largest contributors to our economy. This must be protected and all the more so at this time when the Northern Ireland protocol is causing so much concern out in the wider industry. Whilst it is good and right to set ambitious targets on emissions, it is also all the more vital to ensure that decisions made do not adversely impact the viability of our industries. Targets must be realistic and must be achievable.”