Colum Eastwood says Northern Ireland needs to become world leader in renewable technology to battle climate change
Northern Ireland should become a world leader in renewable energy technology to help fix the climate, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said.
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The Foyle general election candidate said better education of children to raise awareness of global warming was a moral imperative.
Northern Ireland's economy is still largely reliant on fossil fuels, although significant amounts of power are produced through solar and wind energy.
Mr Eastwood said: "We cannot force our children and their children to pay the price for our casual disregard for the body of science which says we are destroying our climate. We should also take the opportunity to become a world leader in renewable technology and climate rehabilitation.
"This is the economy of the future and we should be at the heart of it, a key part of a Europe-wide movement for change."
He said the scale of the global climate crisis should be recognised by teaching the next generation how to live better than the last one.
"Addressing rising global temperatures is no niche political or activist issue.
"It is a worldwide challenge that will evolve into a global humanitarian crisis if we do not take bold, direct action in this moment.
"We will be left to explain to our children why we created millions of climate refugees fleeing flood, famine and drought when the scientific evidence was staring us in the face."
Mr Eastwood said global challenges required robust local solutions.
"We cannot make the case for a clean, green industrial revolution in those countries with carbon intensive industries if we refuse to take action ourselves," he said.
"That's why we should replicate the action taken by the Italian government this week and prepare for a fundamental shift in our schools to create a new environment-aware generation."