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Climate Change Legislation

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP 3:00 pm, 7th November 2016

I thank the Member for his initial remarks.

I have always believed — I think that it is the Minister's view as well — that Northern Ireland does not need specific climate change legislation. Legislation to address climate change is already in place in the form of the UK's Climate Change Act 2008. Given the Member's past job as Environment Minister, he will be aware of the ambitious long-term targets in that legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 across the UK. It also makes it a requirement for Northern Ireland to produce a climate change adaption programme that addresses our particular risks and opportunities. Northern Ireland continues to play its fullest role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of the overall UK reduction. The latest greenhouse gas inventory, which was published in June 2016, shows a reduction of 17·4% from 1990 levels. Updated projections published last year show that we are broadly on track towards achieving our Programme for Government target, which was set by the previous Executive, of a 35% reduction by 2025.

The Member is or ought to be well aware of the particular circumstances and issues that face Northern Ireland's much larger agri-food industry compared with those across the water, issues in the manufacturing sector of our economy and issues with transportation. I do not want any Northern Ireland-specific climate change Bill being passed that would impede our economic development or have the perverse consequence of increasing problems elsewhere. If our agri-food industry cannot grow, we will have to import food from somewhere else, which will impact on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.