Only days to go until climate bill vote - UFU

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is reminding its membership that the Private Member’s Bill on climate change tabled by leader of the Green Party Clare Bailey MLA, is days away from its second reading at Stormont and farmers need to take action before it’s too late.
UFU deputy president David Brown on his farm in Fermanagh. Picture: Cliff DonaldsonUFU deputy president David Brown on his farm in Fermanagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
UFU deputy president David Brown on his farm in Fermanagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Proposing a net zero target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 in Northern Ireland (NI), the bill is supported by the Ulster Unionist Party, SDLP, Sinn Féin, Alliance and some independents.

The UFU say that to date, these political parties have failed to recognise that in order to reach the bill’s key target, dairy and meat production would need to be reduced by over 50 percent - as outlined by expert scientists in the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

The UFU says it supports climate change legislation and the need to tackle emissions from agriculture but proposals must be fair and credible and backed by evidence.

UFU deputy president David Brown said: “On Monday 10 May the climate change bill will enter its second stage and MLAs will be asked to show their support as to whether or not they agree with the bill including the proposed target of reaching net zero in NI by 2045. If the bill gets through, it will become legally-binding. No one can predict what policies DAERA will have to put in place to meet the target but the experts on the CCC determined that NI contributing 82 percent to net zero by 2050, will mean releasing 46 percent of agricultural land for forestry, energy crops and rewetting 150,000 Ha of peatland. Despite us explaining this to our MLAs, they wish to go further and faster setting a target of 100 percent by 2045.

“We’ve already made the call to our farmers to contact their local MLAs to highlight why they should not be supporting the proposed Private Member’s Climate Change Bill, but it needs to be repeated as time is running out. Every farmer needs to contact their local MLAs to voice their concerns about the bill to ensure there is no doubt as to how the industry feels about this poorly thought-out legislation. Climate change legislation is required in NI but we need a framework that is backed up with expert advice and allows local farmers to continue to feed the nation while reducing emissions on farm without drastic livestock reductions.

“The UFU have met with all the political parties who support the bill to reiterate why their yes vote, would be a step towards destroying one of our most successful industries. It would see our food production being exported overseas and given our emissions are less than half the world average, we would be contributing to increased global emissions. It would therefore be counter-productive to combatting global warming. To ensure we get the message across to our politicians that our farmers are not the main problem, that they are in fact the climate change solution, we need our wider membership to continue to raise their genuine concerns with local politicians.”

The second stage debate and vote on the climate change bill can be viewed online and the UFU is urging members to tune in to see how their local MLAs vote.

“We urge our members to watch the debate online on Monday. By doing so, they will be able to see if their local MLAs took their concerns on board or if they are willing to throw their farmers under the bus. We recognise the science lead experts on the CCC, who understand what can be delivered and the disaster of exporting that responsibility,” said the deputy President. 

The second reading of the Private Member’s Climate Change Bill in the afternoon of Monday 10 May and can be viewed on the Assembly website.