COP26: Climate Change Legislation

Members' Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:15 pm on 1st November 2021.

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Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 12:15 pm, 1st November 2021

Yesterday marked the start of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. It also marked the publication of reputable, peer-reviewed research that showed that the level of global warming has risen to 1·2°C and that, with the pledges made by nations so far, we will be lucky to contain temperature rises to between 2·7°C and 3°C. That will be a catastrophe.

The Prime Minister and a large number of commentators have made it clear that action is needed now. We, as a party, strongly welcome our nation's commitment to decarbonisation and, in particular, the push to have considerable changes made by 2030. That is less than a decade away.

We, as part of the United Kingdom, have our part to play in making the start that is needed to achieve the national goal of net zero carbon by 2050.

We are far from our First Minister and deputy First Minister's comments today that we are committed to tackling the climate emergency, building a cleaner environment and creating new green jobs. We instead have a situation in which two climate change Bills will come before the House. Those Bills should be combined so that realistic targets can be met, independent verification can be set up, a just transition can be made, and Northern Ireland can get legislation that brings it into line with the rest of these islands and beyond.

That would be a small but worthy start to our contribution to COP26, and we urge all parties to push to achieve that aim. Our party leader has written to the Minister of Agriculture and to Clare Bailey, asking both Clare and Edwin whether they can talk to Lord Deben and ask him to adjudicate between them to get a combined Bill that can deliver our requirements so that we can meet some commitments towards dealing with the climate emergency. Pushing towards that goal would be a worthy aspect of COP26.