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Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey offers compromise on climate bill

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Clare Bailey’s climate change Bill sets a target of net-zero by 2045 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Clare Bailey’s climate change Bill sets a target of net-zero by 2045 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Clare Bailey’s climate change Bill sets a target of net-zero by 2045 (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey has offered to adapt her climate change bill to incorporate elements of another competing bill from the Environment Minister Edwin Poots.

Despite this, there seems little chance of compromise as Mr Poots has claimed the Green Party Leader’s bill will wipe out tens of thousands of jobs in the agri-food sector.

Ms Bailey’s Private Members’ Bill is at a more advanced legislative stage in the Assembly and has set an ambitious target of net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

By contrast, Mr Poots’ version is targeting an 82% reduction by 2050.

The BBC reported that Ms Bailey has written to Mr Poots saying she will adapt her bill, but there is no agreement on a compromise on carbon emissions.

Ms Bailey said she hoped the amendments would provide “a satisfactory structure for a single climate bill to proceed through the Assembly”.

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“We’re looking at the carbon budgeting, we’re looking at the public sector duty, we’re looking at the non-regression clause,” she said. “We’re looking at a few bits and pieces, and we’re hoping that what we can all do is now agree that we’re going to get legislation passed this mandate.”

At present, the Assembly is set to be dissolved next March ahead of a May election.

Ms Bailey added: “We need to be ambitious, because we have to be ambitious. Northern Ireland has not played its part, it has not done its fair share to date."

Responding in an interview on BBC Good Morning Ulster, Mr Poots said there had been “precious little compromise” from Ms Bailey in the past on the matter.

“This isn’t about headline grabbing, it’s not about aspiration, it’s about real and meaningful target-based, science-based politics.

“If you are going to accept the science that we need to do something to avert climate change disaster then you should accept the science on how we do it.”

Mr Poots said Ms Bailey was accepting the science in one aspect but not the other.

On the latest letter from Ms Bailey, he said that fast legislation is bad legislation and that the Office of Legislative Counsel had described Ms Bailey’s bill as “unworkable and unaffordable”.

He added that Ms Bailey’s bill would be “hugely damaging” to Northern Ireland’s industry.

“That bill will wipe out tens of thousands of jobs across Northern Ireland.”


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