Minister welcomes visit by Climate Change Committee

Two of the UK’s leading climate change experts have briefed the Northern Ireland Executive on the independent science and evidence behind their recommendations for NI’s contribution to the UK’s net zero targets.

Chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Lord Deben and CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark
Chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Lord Deben and CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark
Chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Lord Deben and CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark

Chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Lord Deben and CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark, were invited by the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA Minister to present evidence to the Northern Ireland Executive regarding their 6th Carbon Budget recommendations for Northern Ireland, as future climate change legislation is being considered for the region.

Minister Poots said: “I want to welcome Lord Deben and other members of the CCC to Northern Ireland and wish to thank him for taking the opportunity to address the Executive regarding the CCC’s recommendations for Northern Ireland and the evidence behind them. The CCC is an independent body and its purpose is to advise the UK and devolved governments on emissions targets and provide independent advice on setting and meeting carbon budgets and preparing for climate change.

“The scientific evidence presented to me by the CCC has been absolutely front and centre in shaping my Climate Change Bill. It is only by following the science and evidence that we will be successful - not only in formulating a Climate Change Bill, but also to underpin development of a Green Growth strategy and climate action plan which I am leading on behalf of the Executive.”

The Minister continued: “I believe my Climate Change Bill is right for Northern Ireland. It is a balanced and sustainable Bill which has the right level of ambition and credibility. Current independent scientific evidence and advice from the UK Climate Change Committee is clear - a just transition to a low carbon economy can be achieved in Northern Ireland via a balanced pathway to UK-wide net zero by 2050. This can be achieved through the highly ambitious but achievable target, set within my Bill, of an at least 82% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Northern Ireland by 2050.”

The Minster continued: “All of the evidence indicates that the Net Zero by 2045 target will be highly damaging to the NI economy with the rural sector and communities being particularly significantly impacted. I am therefore keen to ensure that the serious impacts and the additional cost burden of setting an un-evidenced 2045 net zero target for Northern Ireland are fully appreciated by our Executive. I believe today’s discussion will have helped the Executive to build on our understanding of the Committee’s impartiality, expertise, and recommendations for Northern Ireland as well as the context for the advice they have already provided.

“I will continue to seek the support of my Executive and Assembly colleagues for climate change legislation which all of the key players can get on board with to achieve the right sustainable outcomes.

“Climate change is a key priority for my Department and will increasingly be a central driver behind policies, including the future agricultural policy. In fact, under the Climate Change Bill that I have brought forward and introduced to the Assembly in July, it will be a key driver behind the entire Northern Ireland Executive’s policies.”

Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK Climate Change Committee said: “I’m pleased to be in Northern Ireland as we discuss its contribution towards the UK’s Net Zero target. Targets should be ambitious, but they must also be evidence-based and deliverable, with a fair and equitable route map to achieving them. Achieving Net Zero emissions for the UK by 2050 requires every part of the UK to offer their maximum effort. Northern Ireland faces its own unique transition and we are here to encourage all parts of government, in the Executive and in Westminster, to work together to deliver credible solutions that address the climate threat.”