Anna Lo MLA said:”Many countries across the world are facing up to the global consequences of unsustainable development. This has resulted in changing habitats, increased pollution, and climate change. If current trends continue, damage to our environment will accelerate.
“Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland will not be immune from these changes and shouldtherefore play its part in mitigating against them, this is especially important in Northern Ireland where we are heavy polluters. Our reliance on imported oil and coal and on the private car has created the situation where our ecological footprint, at over 5.6 global hectares per person, is higher than England, Scotland and Wales.
“Alliance believes that Northern Ireland government should commit to making a fair and proportionate contribution to the UK Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets, required under the UK Climate Change Act. We are already behind our neighbours in setting binding targets and should act quickly to rectify this.
“There are not just environmental reasons for action but economic too. Stern Reviews have highlighted that strong and early action far outweighs the economic costs of not acting. Whilst there may be a potential cost of 1% to Global GDP in terms of dealing with climate change today, Nicholas Stern draws a stark warning of potential costs ranging between 5% and 20% of Global GDP in the future if climate change is not adequately addressed from today.
“Legislation would represent a political commitment to dealing with climate change as well as sending out the message that Northern Ireland takes climate change seriously. A Northern Ireland Bill would allow for Northern Ireland specific measures to deal with climate change, which are currently lacking in the UK legislation. The Bill would also allow for the Assembly to make decisions on how best to make cuts to our emissions levels rather than just whether or not we should make cuts.”