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Agriculture Minister claims Clare Bailey climate bill ‘aspirational’, as he says NI can lead ‘green revolution’

Minister was speaking at discussion on Oxford Economics Green Growth Index


Edwin Poots. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Edwin Poots. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Edwin Poots. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has claimed his climate change bill is more realistic than one tabled by the Green Party’s Clare Bailey which he called “aspirational”.

The minister was speaking as part of a discussion on the Oxford Economics Green Growth Index hosted by Lloyds Banking Group and the Belfast Telegraph.

It found Northern Ireland is a relatively high emitter of greenhouse gases within the UK, despite emissions falling by 18% since the 1990s.

Emissions from agriculture, transport and changes in land use all increased.

Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK and Ireland without a climate change act.

Two separate climate bills are currently proceeding through legislative stages in the Assembly – a private members’ bill from Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey and one tabled by DUP Environment Minister Edwin Poots.

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Ms Bailey’s bill, which is supported by a majority of other Stormont parties, sets a 2045 target for reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

Mr Poots’s bill sets the less ambitious goal of reducing emissions by 82% by 2050.

The Environment Minister previously insisted his target is in line with a recommendation from the UK’s Climate Change Committee.

Ms Bailey has previously insisted the region must set itself an “ambitious” target and address its reputation as “environmental laggards”.

Talks between the two MLAs and their officials about a potential compromise bill have yet to find agreement.

In October the minister launched a consultation around a draft green growth strategy setting out the long-term vision and a solid framework for tackling the climate crisis.

Speaking as part of the discussion on Thursday, Mr Poots said Northern Ireland can be at the “forefront of the green revolution”.

“We have the advantage of being an island which has loads of wind and lots of water around us. There are so many opportunities for us to get out there and use renewable energy,” he said.

When asked about whether having two bills currently going through Stormont was a problem, the minister replied: “The action needs to be taken now so regardless of bills action has been happening.”

“Meeting the 100% net zero within the UK is something we can help achieve.

“Some people are insisting we do the 100% here at home, but without the science which isn't available to us yet.

“Saying: ‘Well we are going to do this without having the scientific backing’ is as the Climate Change Committee says, aspirational and therefore it is not a target and therefore you are only misleading people by saying you are going to do it.”

Meanwhile a report into electricity consumption and renewable generation in Northern Ireland has found the level of electricity generated from renewable sources has decreased.

They said for the 12 month period from October 2020 to September 2021, 42.1% of total electricity consumption in Northern Ireland was generated from renewable sources located in Northern Ireland.

According to the report this represents a decrease of 5.5 percentage points on the previous 12 month period.

They said the decrease over this period in the proportion was driven largely by the reduced volume of wind generation.

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