Committee for the Economy: Energy Strategy Report

Part of Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 23rd November 2020.

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Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:45 pm, 23rd November 2020

I thank Committee members and the Committee Clerk for the work that has gone into producing the special report and their ongoing commitment to a new green future for Northern Ireland.

I stand here thankful that, finally, in 2020, we have got to the point where, despite some politically charged rumblings, I have heard our Economy Minister and our Environment Minister speak in the Chamber about the need to protect our environment and tackle climate change. In the context of the debate, I particularly welcome the Minister's recognition in her road map, which was published in June, of the central role of the green economy in rebuilding the Northern Ireland economy.

An effective energy strategy must have ambitious targets to tackle decarbonisation in heat, power and transport. It must be recognised that, when it comes to power, we have made some excellent progress. Fifteen years ago, 3% of our electricity consumption came from renewables; today, it is 47%. That is a great leap forward and a success that we should build on. It is good news not just for the environment, with 9 megatons of carbon saved in the last 20 years, but for consumers, with £135 million saved on consumer bills since 2000. I welcome the Minister's commitment to build on that success by setting new ambitious targets for emissions in Northern Ireland, which, she said, should not be below 70%.