It took exactly 57 seconds for a piece of climate history to be made at Stormont this week. That was how long was required to introduce Northern Ireland’s first climate bill for assembly consideration. The so-called first reading is a technical step in the legislative process. It is when the bill is introduced, its title is read out and it is ordered to be published. But while its introduction may have been dry, its journey through the law-making process will be more eventful. And having been the only part of the UK without its own climate legislation, Northern Ireland could well end up with two competing climate bills in the coming months. There is now consensus that legislation is needed. It was a commitment in the New Decade, New Approach agreement which restored the Stormont institutions in January last year. But politicians differ on how far and how fast Northern Ireland needs to be going. On one side are Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and the Alliance Party, which all back the private member’s bill introduced this week by Green Party leader Clare Bailey. It calls for net-zero carbon emissions in Northern Ireland by 2045. On the other is the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), especially its Agriculture and Environment Minister Edwin Poots. He is drawing up his own departmental bill and has proposals ready for approval by the Stormont executive when he can get them on to the agenda. That bill is likely to draw on advice from the UK’s climate advisory body the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). It suggested an 82% cut in emissions by 2050 would be a fair contribution for Northern Ireland to the UK’s net-zero climate commitment.
BBC 27th March 2021 read more »