Belfast Telegraph

Monday 5 October 2015

Stormont MLAs urged to tackle climate change

By Linda Stewart

Published 10/05/2012

MLAs have been urged to set targets to tackle climate change.

Around 50 campaigners from across Northern Ireland gathered at Stormont last night calling for laws to reduce significantly Northern Ireland’s carbon footprint.

By 6pm, 20 MLAs had put their signatures to rugby balls, pledging to support the campaign.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that does not have binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — yet our household emissions are 39% above the UK average.

The event was organised by the the group, Stop Climate Chaos Northern Ireland with the sponsorship of MLAs Anna Lo, John Dallat, and Peter Weir.

Stop Climate Chaos has been campaigning for the Assembly to pass legislation that would reduce Northern Ireland’s carbon footprint over the next 40 years.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has said tougher targets need to be set. MLAs were asked to record their commitment to passing a climate change law by signing the rugby balls.

Anna Lo said: “We need a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act with specific targets to ensure that all government departments take action to reduce carbon emissions in Northern Ireland in line with other parts of the UK. Having a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act would make tackling climate change a core priority.”

Gary McFarlane, chairman of Stop Climate Chaos Northern Ireland, said: “Action on climate change has never been more urgent and now we have the opportunity to get in the game.

“Today we call on the Assembly to pass a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act at the earliest within the next 12 months.”

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Northern Ireland has opted into the Climate Change Act, but is the only UK region not to set legally binding targets to cut its emissions and has not set any targets in its Programme for Government.

Campaigners claim a conservative ‘bare minimum’ target would be to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. It is up to MLAs to decide if binding targets should be set.

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