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Environment Minister Edwin Poots has recently met with the UK High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, Nigel Topping, during a three-day visit to Northern Ireland.

Mr Topping is visiting the region to meet local businesses, farmers, city representatives, and civic society organisations to see the positive climate work being delivered locally and to raise awareness and ambition of potential action going forward.

DAERA Minister and the NI Executive’s lead for COP26, Minister Poots said: “There is already a significant amount of good work underway in Northern Ireland to tackle climate change and reduce emissions. I am delighted that Nigel will get the opportunity to see some of this positive work during his visit to Northern Ireland.

Many of our departments, cities, councils, businesses and industries are already taking steps towards a greener economy. As the NI Executive’s lead for COP26, I am keen for Northern Ireland to support the UK Government’s ambitions for this historic summit.”

DAERA is leading the way on a number of key initiatives that will drive climate action and help Northern Ireland support the UK’s COP26 objectives. This includes the Forest for our Future initiative, a Clean Air Strategy, a Peatlands Strategy, development the NICS Single Use Plastic Plan, the roll out of the Northern Ireland Environment Strategy, amongst other activities.

Minister Poots said: “I recently launched ‘Sustainability for the Future - DAERA’s Plan to 2050’. A long-term plan for my Department, with sustainability at its core, setting out a vision for a healthy environment, health economy, and a healthy population and how my Department will deliver this over the next 30 years.

“My Department is also leading on the development of the Executive’s multi-decade Green Growth Strategy and Climate Action Plan as well as developing policy proposals for climate change legislation.

“Once finalised, the Green Growth strategy will be the NI Executive’s route map to addressing our climate and environmental challenges by delivering a resilient recovery and brighter future through a greener, low emissions and circular economy for Northern Ireland, whilst contributing to the wider UK Net-zero by 2050 target.”

UK High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, Nigel Topping, said: “On my first trip to Northern Ireland as the UK Climate Action Champion for COP26, it is encouraging to hear about the work already underway and planned and how it is feeding to the UK’s ambition for COP26 and beyond.

“I am looking forward to meeting people from across a range of sectors including agriculture, transport, local government, finance, business and civic society and being able to see first-hand their actions and innovation. Taking steps to deliver a healthy, resilient and decarbonised world is something we can all work towards together.”

Minister Poots says while it is important to champion all the positive work on-going and planned he recognises there is still work to be done: “There are many opportunities for Northern Ireland to continue to drive climate action and reduce emissions. However, it must be done in a way that is just and does not do irreparable harm to our local economy. I am committed to Northern Ireland playing its part on a local, national and international stage to address climate change; supporting the UK COP26 objectives; and contributing to the UK hitting its net-zero target by 2050.”