Alliance Environment spokesperson Anna Lo MLA has called on the Executive to introduce a climate change act for Northern Ireland. She made the comments at an event she sponsored at Stormont called “Get in the Game Mass Lobby” organised by the Stop Climate Chaos coalition on Tuesday afternoon.
Anna Lo MLA said: “The Alliance Party strongly believes that Northern Ireland needs a Climate Change Act with specific targets for the production of renewable energy and for the reduction in carbon emissions.
“I was disappointed that the Programme for Government did not set out a clear commitment to tackling the issue of Climate Change and, although there were reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, they were certainly not ambitious enough and the lack of mechanisms for monitoring these targets seriously undermines its potential to see tangible results.
“A Northern Ireland Climate Change Act would help clarify the duties and responsibilities of the different Departments to ensure a cross-departmental approach which is necessary if we are to seriously tackle this issue. Furthermore, a Climate Change Act would identify a specific Department to take an overall lead on combatting climate change in order to monitor and ensure that the targets are being adhered to. At a time when the Minister and the majority of the Environment Committee are indicating support for such a bill- it is important that we act now to ensure its introduction and implementation. Having a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act would make tackling climate change a core priority and make all Ministers take account of their responsibility.
“The Environment committee held an inquiry into Climate Change and one of the concluding recommendations was that legislation should be brought forward with challenging but achievable targets. I agree that this is necessary and the time is now for the Executive to take this forward. Without action, every day, the impact of climate change grows. Northern Ireland’s over reliance on imported oil and coal, along with our reliance on cars, has created the situation where our ecological footprint per person which is higher than England, Scotland and Wales. We are definitely living unsustainable lifestyles and we must face up to the consequences of unsustainable development.
“As individuals we all have an obligation to contribute towards reducing our carbon footprint and start investing in energy diversification. The Northern Ireland Assembly is no different to this. The legal framework and targets currently in place are simply insufficient to effectively deliver on reducing our impact on our environment both local and global.”