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Stormont 'will struggle to honour Paris climate deal'

By Allan Preston

Published 14/12/2015

Encouraged: Mark H Durkan
Encouraged: Mark H Durkan

A historic deal on climate change was agreed by world leaders in Paris on Saturday - but it is already being asked if Northern Ireland can meet the ambitious targets.

Leaders from 195 countries signed the deal after two weeks of negotiations which the French President Francois Hollande described as a "step forward for mankind." The agreement makes a commitment to keep global temperature rises under 2 degrees celsius.

The Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has welcomed the deal, calling it "a result for everyone, our planet and our future generations".

But there is concern that Northern Ireland is falling behind on its carbon emission targets.

Mr Durkan, who was in Paris as part of the UK delegation known as COP21, said: "During my time in Paris I was encouraged by the willingness of everyone to engage in serious discussion on tackling climate change.

"This milestone agreement shows that this was not just talk - real actions have been agreed that will make a real difference."

He also praised commitments to offer billions of pounds in support for developing countries to meet their environmental goals.

Sandra Overend, environment spokesperson for the Ulster Unionist Party, also welcomed the agreement, but blasted the Stormont Executive for falling behind on carbon emission targets.

"While the Executive still claims to be committed to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, its actions suggest otherwise," she said.

"In order to live up to its global responsibilities, Northern Ireland needs to do much more. The Executive has a target to reduce emissions by 2025, however, the latest projections are that it is going to miss that."

Steven Agnew, Green Party leader in Northern Ireland, said he hoped the deal would put pressure on the Assembly to pass climate change legislation.

"The Assembly has agreed twice with me to bring forward a climate bill and I now expect to see this as soon as possible.

"We also need to take a long hard look at how we develop and invest locally in renewable energy and energy efficiency."

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