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Climate Change

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Pat Sheehan Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin 2:15 pm, 13th October 2015

8. Mr Sheehan asked the Minister of the Environment whether he has liaised with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris regarding climate change priorities for the island of Ireland. (AQO 8859/11-16)

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

The overwhelming scientific evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) fifth assessment report highlights the dramatic changes to our climate and their causes. Pope Francis’s recent interjections on climate change to EU and USA leaders helped to highlight the moral responsibility that we all have to protect the poorest and most vulnerable groups and regions from the dangers of climate change. I will be attending the Conference of Parties 21 (COP21) as part of the UK delegation, along with Ministers from Scotland and Wales. It is my intention to engage with colleagues from the devolved Administrations, Ireland and other countries to encourage and provide support for a comprehensive global agreement on action on climate change.

I am in regular contact with Minister Kelly in the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government on a range of environmental matters. With the Paris summit on climate change taking place at end of November, I have agreed that a discussion on climate change will be held at the next North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) environment sector meeting scheduled for 18 November. Furthermore I am keen to frame my input to the Paris discussions from an island-of-Ireland perspective. To that end, I have written to Minister Kelly and representatives of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Episcopal Conference to arrange a meeting to discuss common issues of concern to be taken forward at COP21. I believe that it is vital that we explore how together we can offer leadership on climate change matters for all the people of Ireland and provide hope to those beyond our shores who are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change but yet have done the least to cause the problem.

Photo of Pat Sheehan Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as ucht a fhreagra ansin. I am sure that the Minister will agree that, on such a small island, it is important that he liaises with his counterpart on the issue of climate change. I am glad to hear that he is going to have a meeting with his colleague at the next North/South Ministerial Council meeting on 18 November. Can he give a commitment that he will report back on the outcome of that meeting?

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank Mr Sheehan for that supplementary question. As with all NSMC meetings, there will be a report back to the Chamber. A statement will be given, and questions can be asked.

Hopefully, I will not have to wait until that date to have those discussions with Minister Kelly. As I said, I am hopeful of convening another meeting or seminar of sorts in the interim, on which I will also be more than happy to report back to the Assembly.

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:30 pm, 13th October 2015

Order. That ends the period for listed questions. We will now move to topical questions.