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Science-led, evidence-based and stakeholder-driven policy, is the only way we will achieve realistic, sustainable and achievable reductions in carbon emissions and play our part in mitigating climate change – Edwin Poots has said.

The Minister made the comments as he welcomed the passage of his draft Climate Change Bill through the Executive today.

The Minister said: “I am pleased that my draft Climate Change Bill has been agreed by my Executive colleagues. I now intend to move it swiftly to the next stage as my ultimate aim is to see my Bill complete its legislative passage within the current Assembly mandate. We need a Climate Change Bill and targets that everyone can get on board with - my draft Bill is steeped in science, evidence and has received input and direction from stakeholders from across a range of sectors.

“I believe my Climate Change Bill is right for Northern Ireland and it is a balanced and sustainable Bill which has the right level of ambition and credibility. Current independent scientific evidence and advice from the UK Climate Change Committee is clear - a just transition to a low carbon economy can be achieved in Northern Ireland via a balanced pathway to UK-wide net zero by 2050. This can be achieved through the highly ambitious but achievable target, set within my Bill, of an at least 82% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Northern Ireland by 2050.

“This is a target that the UK Climate Change Committee have advised is a credible and fair contribution by Northern Ireland that delivers on UK net zero and the commitments of the Paris Agreement accord. The UK Climate Change Committee’s chair Lord Deben has went further to say that setting a target which we in Northern Ireland cannot reach would be ‘morally wrong’.”

The Minister continued: “The Bill has a strong focus on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and puts in place a legal regime and basis for Northern Ireland policy-makers and decision-makers to build upon.

“The UK Climate Change Committee have said that to meet the challenging targets, policy needs to be developed and implemented in the 2020’s and early 2030’s. Time is therefore of the essence which is why it is so important to deliver this Bill within the current mandate. I will therefore move this Bill to the next stage as quickly as possible and introduce it to the Assembly before summer recess.”