Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Views sought on climate change plan

Environment minister Alex Attwood sought public views on the value of climate change legislation for Northern Ireland

Homeowners in Northern Ireland face reduced water supplies in the future because of global warming, research highlighted by the DoE warned.

Increased flooding and coastal erosion may also impact on people and properties while there will be a greater risk of wildfires resulting in biodiversity loss, it was revealed.

Temperatures are expected to increase and rainfall patterns change because of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the government department.

"It is therefore clear that it is necessary for action to be taken, not only by government but also by all sections of our society and by individuals," it said.

Environment minister Alex Attwood sought public views on the value of climate change legislation for Northern Ireland or a voluntary approach to emissions reductions. Laws could include statutory targets to reduce emissions, set out the role of an independent climate change committee, introduce new reporting duties on public authorities and other less prescriptive approaches.

Northern Ireland is already included in UK legislation on climate change but that does not provide for a local approach. It does not set binding targets at a devolved level nor require public authorities in Northern Ireland to report on their climate change readiness.

The Scottish Government has its own legislation, and administrations in Wales and the Republic of Ireland are considering new proposals on the issue.

Mr Attwood said: "The impacts of climate change have the potential to be highly significant to the lives of the people of Northern Ireland. Disruption to business, agriculture, services and our daily lives will increase if adverse changes occur.

"An increased risk of flooding and coastal erosion will put pressure on drainage, sewage, roads, water and habitat."

Estimates for the 2050s suggest Northern Ireland will have an increase in winter mean temperature of approximately 1.7C, an increase in summer mean temperature of approximately 2.2C, an increase in winter rainfall and reduction in summer as well as a sea level rise for Belfast of 14.5cm (5.7in) above the 1990 sea level.

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