Northern Ireland has the highest household carbon emissions for its population size of all UK nations and regions, according to a report on the green economy.
But the UK Green Growth Index from Oxford Economics said the province had a strong base of industries that could support the green economy, particularly in its energy sector.
The research carried out for Lloyds Banking Group said Northern Ireland’s reliance on jobs in high carbon-emitting sectors like manufacturing was holding its green economy back.
According to the index, there was already a strong base of industries which could support the green economy, particularly its energy sector.
It found Northern Ireland had 5,000 existing green economy jobs in areas such as onshore wind and battery storage.
And it already generates almost half of its electricity from renewable sources, while its installed capacity from onshore wind was second only to Scotland.
Northern Ireland sits ninth on the Growth Index (42.7), ahead of only London (36.5).
Jim McCooe, Lloyds Banking Group ambassador for Northern Ireland, said: “Northern Ireland clearly faces challenges in making the transition to net zero, given its heavy dependence on jobs in carbon-intensive sectors and the urgent need to reduce emissions from businesses and households alike.
“However, with the green economy accounting for 5,000 jobs across the country, it already has a solid base upon which to build.
"With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop26) taking place soon, this is a wake-up call for everyone in Northern Ireland to work together, further develop our skills base and adopt greener ways of living and doing business if we are to fully realise our green potential.
“While every nation and region has its own story, each has an important role to play in transitioning to a greener economy. We will mobilise support across our business to make sure they can all seize the huge opportunities that the green economy represents.”
It’s estimated that the UK would need to invest £1.4trn and create up to 2.5 million green jobs before 2050 to meet its net zero ambitions.
The UK Green Growth Index considers each region’s existing base of green industry, innovation activity, take-up of relevant skills and training, and renewable energy infrastructure.