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Ask the expert: What Stormont can do to battle climate change issues

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Climate change activists outside Stormont while a debate on the Bill was taking place. Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Climate change activists outside Stormont while a debate on the Bill was taking place. Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Climate change activists outside Stormont during a debate on NI Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots' Climate Change Bill last year (Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

Climate change activists outside Stormont during a debate on NI Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots' Climate Change Bill last year (Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

Dr Ian Humphreys

Dr Ian Humphreys

Declan Allison

Declan Allison

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Climate change activists outside Stormont while a debate on the Bill was taking place. Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

This week Dr Ian Humphreys, chief executive of environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and Declan Allison from Friends of the Earth will answer key questions on green issues

Q. Is there one measure Stormont must introduce sooner rather than later?

A. I don’t think it’s helpful to try to find one big fix to climate change. We need to make major, widespread changes across all of society and in every sector of the economy, from changing the way we plan our towns and cities, to how we travel, and how we grow our food. Making tweaks here and there won’t be enough to make the sort of cuts in our greenhouse gas emissions that we must make. Climate change is nothing less than a huge threat to civilisation. We must take that challenge seriously and rise to it. (DA)

Q. Is it a myth that environmentally friendly and organic food products cost more?

A. Cost is an interesting issue. Prices at the till are one thing, but what’s the true cost of an item that has been produced cheaply with no thought for the environment? When someone buys a drink in a bottle made from virgin plastic and then throws it out of the car window, there’s a cost globally (plastic is made from fossil fuels) and locally (we pay for the clean-up in our rates bill). (IH)

Q. Are electric cars a viable answer to traffic pollution?

A. The best solution to traffic pollution is to invest more in developing our public transport system and making it affordable. One bus can take many cars off the road but at present it can be cheaper financially to keep using a car.

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Electric cars will only ever be a part of the solution and even their use is problematic until their prices come down and we get the charging infrastructure in place to make them a fully viable alternative to the combustion engine. (IH)


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