The Assembly's Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee recently (21 January 2022) published its report on the Climate Change (No.2) Bill.
The Bill, which is one of two pieces of climate change legislation examined by the Committee, is being brought forward by the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Speaking after the publication of the report, Committee Chairperson, Declan McAleer MLA recently 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.
Mr McAleer continued:
We have included an amendment that the overall emissions target must state specifically that there will be a net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) position in 2050 as part of the overall 82% reduction in Greenhouse Gases. 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.
We have also 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.
Mr McAleer concluded:
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.
Notes to Editor:
- Read the full Committee Report on the Climate Change (No.2) Bill
- A summary report is also available. Read the summary report.
Mr Declan McAleer MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Philip McGuigan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Ms Clare Bailey MLA
Mrs Rosemary Barton MLA
Mr John Blair MLA
Mr Thomas Buchanan MLA
Mr Harry Harvey MLA
Mr William Irwin MLA
Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
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