Climate Change (No. 2) Bill: Further Consideration Stage

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:15 pm on 28th February 2022.

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Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin 4:15 pm, 28th February 2022

I call the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Mr Edwin Poots, to move the Further Consideration Stage of the Bill.

Moved. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Members will have a copy of the Marshalled List of amendments detailing the order for consideration. The amendments have been grouped for debate in the provisional grouping of amendments selected list. There are two groups of amendments, and we will debate the amendments in each group in turn.

The first debate will be on amendment Nos 1 to 19, which deal with methane and interim emissions targets, carbon units and carbon budgets. The second debate will be on amendment Nos 20 to 70, which deal with sectoral and climate action plans, just transition and a climate commissioner.

I remind Members who intend to speak that, during the debates on the two groups of amendments, they should address all the amendments in each group on which they wish to comment. Once the debate on each group is completed, any further amendments in the group will be moved formally as we go through the Bill, and the Question on each will be put without further debate. If that is clear, we shall proceed.

Clause 1 (The emissions targets for 2050)

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

We now come to the first group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 1, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 2 to 19. In this group, amendment No 2 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 1; amendment Nos 7 and 8 are consequential to amendment No 6; amendment No 16 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 15; amendment No 19 is consequential to amendment No 17; and amendment Nos 9, 11, 13 and 14 are all paving amendments to amendment No 17. I call the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Mr Edwin Poots, to move amendment No 1 and to address the other amendments in the group.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I beg to move amendment No 1:

In page 1, line 10, at end insert—

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“(3) The duty in subsection (1) does not require the net Northern Ireland emissions account for methane for the year 2050 to be more than 46% lower than the baseline for methane.”

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 2: In page 1, line 10, at end insert—



“(3) The Northern Ireland departments must ensure that targets for biogenic methane reductions make a fair and proportionate contribution to achieving long-term temperature goals as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 3: In clause 3, page 2, line 3, leave out “at least 69% lower than the baseline” and insert—



“in line with the overall target for the year 2050”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 4: In clause 4, page 2, line 6, leave out “at least 48% lower than the baseline” and insert—



“in line with the overall target for the year 2050”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 5: After clause 5 insert—



Duty to consider whether to revise targets


5A.—(1) The Department must consider whether the targets in sections 3 and 4 are consistent with meeting the emissions target in section 1(1).


(2) In relation to each of the targets in sections 3 and 4, the Department must either—


(a) lay before the Assembly draft regulations under section 5 to amend the target so as to be consistent with the target in section 1(1), or


(b) lay before the Assembly a statement explaining why it considers that the target does not need to be amended.


(3) The Department must lay draft regulations or a statement in relation to each target within the period of 2 years beginning with the day on which this Act receives Royal Assent.


(4) Section 53(2) does not apply to regulations laid before the Assembly under subsection (2)(a).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 6: In clause 6, page 2, line 35, at end insert—



“(2A) The baseline for methane is the amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of methane in 1990.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 7: In clause 6, page 3, line 2, after “(2)” insert “or (2A)”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 8: In clause 6, page 3, line 3, after “dioxide” insert “or methane”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 9: In clause 7, page 3, line 10, after “8” insert “, 8A”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 10: In clause 7, page 3, line 18, leave out “(see subsection (3))” and insert—



“or the net Northern Ireland emissions account for methane (see subsections (3) and (4))”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 11: In clause 7, page 3, line 22, after “8” insert “, 8A”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 12: In clause 7, page 3, line 28, at end insert—



“(4) The net Northern Ireland emissions account for methane for 2050 is the amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of methane for 2050 (which is to be determined in accordance with sections 8 and 9).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 13: As an amendment to amendment No 12, after “8” insert “, 8A”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 14: In clause 8, page 3, line 39, after “period,” insert—



“except those excluded under section 8A,”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 15: In clause 8, page 4, line 6, leave out paragraph (d) and insert—



“(d) the use of carbon capture and storage technology.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 16: In clause 8, page 4, line 6, leave out “carbon capture use and storage technology” and insert “emissions removal technology”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 17: After clause 8 insert—



Meaning of ‘Northern Ireland emissions’: agriculture


8A.—(1) Emissions of a greenhouse gas from agricultural sources do not count as Northern Ireland emissions of the gas.


(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), emissions from agricultural sources are—


(a) emissions from enteric fermentation and other emissions from livestock,


(b) emissions from agricultural soils,


(c) emissions from agricultural wastes and manure management, and


(d) emissions from agricultural machinery (whether stationary or mobile)


(3) The Department may by regulations make further provision regarding the exclusion of greenhouse gases from agricultural sources under subsection (1), and in particular may—


(a) add to the list in subsection (2) emissions from other sources, or remove emissions from that list;


(b) specify (as exceptions to subsection (1)) circumstances in which, and the extent to which, emissions of a greenhouse gas from agricultural sources are to count as Northern Ireland emissions of that gas.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 18: In clause 10, page 5, line 1, leave out subsection (3) and insert—



“(3) The regulations must set a limit on the net amount of carbon units by which the net Northern Ireland emissions account for a period may be reduced as a result of applying provision made under subsection (1)(a) and (b); and that limit must not be greater than 25% of the aggregate amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of each greenhouse gas for that period (as determined in accordance with sections 8 and 9).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 19: As an amendment to amendment No 18, after “8” insert “, 8A”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I have tabled a number of amendments to my Bill. I am hopeful that Members will appreciate the reasons and logic behind the tabling of those amendments and, ultimately, support them. The vast majority of the amendments are technical amendments to remove duplication from the Bill and to more effectively link the additional elements added to the Bill at Consideration Stage within the framework of the Bill as introduced.

My officials have engaged with the proposers of the amendments upon which these fixes are being attempted to explain the rationale behind the further amendments and to make clear that they are not changing the will or amending the policy ambitions agreed at Consideration Stage. Instead, the amendments are making the Bill more workable and improving the operability of what would be a multi-decade piece of legislation. Some of the Members in question seem willing to accept the rationale behind some of the proposed amendments. I hope that all Members want the legislation to be at least technically operable and will be supportive of the intent behind the technical amendments.

I will discuss the majority of the fixes in more detail during the group 2 debate. First, I want to focus on the amendments in group 1, particularly amendment Nos 1 and 17, which I have tabled. Amendment No 1 would amend clause 1, which sets out the emissions reduction target for 2050. The amendments made at Consideration Stage mean that the overall target in clause 1 is for net zero emissions by 2050. Those present are well aware of my view on that target; it is not just my view but that of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I have consistently highlighted that there is no evidence to support such a target and that the impacts and costs of trying to achieve such a target would be colossal. Unfortunately, it is clear that some people do not want to face those facts.

The consequence of the potential impact of those proposals is even more clear to us now than they were when we debated at Consideration Stage. No one anticipated war in Europe in this century. No one anticipated that the second-largest producer of fossil fuels — oil and gas — in the world would invade one of the largest food providers in the world.

We are living in a circumstance in which the things that we use every day, such as the light that we switch on in the morning, the kettle that we boil and the bread that we put in the toaster are all impacted on by what is happening many thousands of miles away. We are all affected by that. The significance of that, and its potential impact, is absolutely huge and game-changing for the rest of the world.

Ukraine produces enough food to feed 600 million people. If this becomes a protracted war in which harvests are not planted, the implications for food supply will be felt this year by the rest of the world. That will include your bread, chicken, and dairy products: all those things. As well as oil and gas, Russia is one of the largest suppliers of nitrogen fertiliser. I believe that the only inevitable sanctions that will make any real difference to Russia are those that include its oil and gas. Whenever that filters through, however, Russia is going apply further pressure on us. The decisions that we make in this country must therefore be in the best interests of the people whom we represent. One of those decisions should be that we sustain our ability to produce food for the people who live on these islands.

During the debate at Consideration Stage, a number of Members who supported the 2050 net zero target also indicated that they supported the agriculture sector, that they cared about farming and that aiming for such a target did not mean that there would be cuts to the herd. Ms Bailey said that the Green Party was pro-farmer. She said:

"We want to see farmers and farming communities survive and thrive well into the future". — [Official Report (Hansard), 1 February 2022, p26, col 1].

Mr McGuigan, speaking for Sinn Féin — at least I assume that he was — said:

"it is important that we take into account the economic capabilities of our agriculture sector and the fact that we do not want to invite policies that allow for carbon leakage or displace people from rural communities." — [Official Report (Hansard), 1 February 2022, p57, col 2-p58, col 1].

He further highlighted developments and plans in the South of Ireland and indicated that cuts to the herd are not being called for there in the context of the South's carbon neutrality target. He said that Sinn Féin would not allow beef and sheep farmers in less-favoured areas (LFAs) to go out of business. Indeed, Mr McGuigan said that Sinn Féin would not tolerate food production in Ireland being reduced only to be replaced by unsustainable imports from the other side of the globe and that it would protect the interests of family farmers, and the communities that depend on them. There is therefore an opportunity for Mr McGuigan and the other Sinn Féin Members to put their votes where their words were in the previous debate, and that opportunity will come this evening at some stage.

Mr O'Toole said:

"I care about farming and the amazing contribution that farmers make. I do not see any contradiction between our having maximum and real ambition for dealing with climate change and celebrating and protecting farming and rural communities." — [Official Report (Hansard), 1 February 2022, p70, col 2].

In the context of those comments, I look forward to the support of the Members from those parties that I have mentioned for amendment No 1. Amendment No 1 ensures that, in the context of aiming for net zero emissions by 2050, the level of reductions in methane emissions is not required:

"to be more than 46% lower than the baseline for methane."

The potential level of reductions in methane emissions is consistent — this is important — with the advice from the IPCC and with the CCC's "balanced pathway" recommendations on methane and the ambition that we should have for reducing methane emissions. Importantly, it will prevent a situation in which, in the context of aiming for overall net zero, disproportionate reductions in methane emissions are pursued.

I note that the IPCC has today published a global report, titled 'Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability', which makes for stark reading. I want to take time to read it in depth and analyse its findings in more detail. The report, however, again highlights the serious risks that we face from the impacts of global climate change and the need urgently to do much more about adaptation and reducing our global emissions. The report also highlights, in line with the Paris agreement, the importance of food security and the threats to food security from climate change.

However, another threat to food security — a very real one in Northern Ireland — is the pursuit of policies that would decimate our food production capacity. Amendment No 1 will help to prevent that from happening. It will protect and preserve the overall net zero target, which was the will of the House, while ensuring that the levels of methane reductions required are consistent with the advice and guidance of the experts. In so doing, it will help to provide some degree of protection for our agriculture sector without limiting overall climate ambition. The protection of the agriculture sector was clearly stated as being the will of many Members, so now is the time to vote for an amendment that will help to do just that and show that it is their genuine will.

Amendment No 1 does not, as some might claim, limit the ambition of farmers. Rather, it shows that you are all committed to protecting rural communities and the important role of agriculture in our economy and in those rural communities, whilst, at the same time, to pursuing the ambition of net zero for Northern Ireland. The level of reductions can, of course, be higher as technologies evolve, but, for now, the amendment recognises the special characteristics of methane and the need for us to produce food from livestock from which there will be methane emissions instead of simply shifting that food production to elsewhere in the world — to another island or another land mass — where the methane continues to be produced. We can all agree that that would be a better outcome.

Mr McGuigan, Mr McAleer and Dr Archibald have tabled amendment No 2, which requires that, in terms of targets for biogenic methane reductions, we aim that they:

"make a fair and proportionate contribution to achieving long-term temperature goals as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement."

I considered that as being complementary to my amendment No 1, and would have been willing to support it on that basis. Unfortunately, the Speaker has ruled that amendment Nos 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive, which I understand. If both amendments were passed, it would cause a problem.

My amendment is the better one for a number of reasons. There are no targets for biogenic methane in clauses one to four of the Bill, nor will there necessarily be any expressed in those terms in carbon budgets. Therefore if we want to effectively incorporate something useful in the Bill on methane at this stage, Members should support my amendment, which deals with specifics regarding the amount of reductions in baselines and is, therefore, more legally robust and easier to measure in terms of deliverability. Therefore, I hope that those Members who supported the net zero target and, at the same time, expressed their support for the agriculture sector will see amendment No 1 as being a positive additional element to the Bill and support it.

I have also tabled amendment No 17, which aims to remove agricultural emissions from the targets in the Bill as an alternative for Members. That amendment would mean that agricultural emissions from specific agriculture sources do not count as emissions of gas for the purposes of the target in the Bill. The sources in question are the primary sources of agricultural emissions in Northern Ireland, namely emissions from enteric fermentation and other emissions from livestock; emissions from agricultural soils, wastes and manure management; and emissions from agricultural machinery.

Amendment No 17 would also provide my Department with the power to make regulations in the future that specify the extent to which, and under which circumstances, emissions of greenhouse gases from agricultural sources count as Northern Ireland emissions of that gas for the purpose of the targets in the Bill. Amendment No 17 would protect the agriculture sector from the negative consequences of a net zero target and allow us to decide in the longer term which emissions from agriculture should count towards the targets in the Bill.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr Beggs] in the Chair)

Amendment Nos 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 are consequential to amendment No 1, and amendment Nos 9, 11, 13, 14 and 19 are consequential to amendment No 17. Those are all minor technical amendments to update references. I will not go into the detail of those amendments, as the key decisions to make are on amendment Nos 1 and 17.

Turning to the other amendments in the group, amendment Nos 3 and 4 attempt to replace the current 2030 and 2040 targets with the words

"in line with the overall target for the year 2050".

They are linked to clause 2, which was agreed at Consideration Stage. However, I have tabled amendment No 5, which would add new clause 5A. That will better achieve what amendment Nos 3 and 4 and, indeed, clause 2 are trying to do. Under amendment No 5, creates new clause 5A, which requires the existing 2030 and 2040 targets to be reviewed in the context of the target in clause 1 and, if appropriate, update it within two years using the powers in clause 5.

My amendment links to the power in the Bill to amend the targets for 2030 and 2040 and retains the current targets for 2030 and 2040 until the relevant analysis has been undertaken of whether they should be changed and to what. Given that various provisions in the Bill refer to the targets in clauses 3 and 4, it is better to retain an actual target in those clauses than to substitute the suggested wording in amendment Nos 3 and 4. I therefore urge Members to support amendment No 5 rather than amendment Nos 3 and 4.

Amendment Nos 15 and 16 relate to clause 8(3)(d). Amendment No 16 would change the wording in the provision to the use of "emissions removal technology", but amendment No 15, which I have tabled, would change it to:

"the use of carbon capture and storage technology".

Those are fairly minor amendments. They attempt to do the same thing, but my suggested wording is more commonly used. I therefore urge Members to support amendment No 15.

Amendment No 18 would replace clause 10(3), which was inserted at Consideration Stage. As I highlighted during that debate, the provision is defective in that it supposes that regulations under clause 10(1) will specify reductions in the net emissions account, whereas the regulations only set the framework for calculating that account. While I support the principle of the amendment that was agreed at Consideration Stage, it did not specify what kind of reduction is forbidden and does not link properly to the power in subsection (1). I have therefore tabled amendment No 18, which requires regulations under clause 10(1) to:

"set a limit on the net amount of carbon units by which the net Northern Ireland emissions account for a period may be reduced as a result of applying provision made under subsection (1)(a) and (b)" and places a restriction so that the limit:

"must not be greater than 25% of the aggregate amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of each greenhouse gas".

The amendment will retain the intent of the original amendment, but, crucially, it will make it operable. Indeed, that is what all my professionally drafted, technical-fix amendments have been put forward to do.

In summary, Members will be glad to hear, I urge Members to accept and agree all the amendments that I have tabled to protect our agriculture sector and community. I cannot support the other group 1 amendments, because my amendments will achieve the same outcomes in a more legally coherent way. As an Assembly, we need to do the right thing, ensure that we tackle the complex and urgent issue of climate change collectively and support and protect our key sectors. I commend my amendments to the House. They will do what we are setting out to do, which is to ensure that we have a much better environment, considerably reduce the amount of carbon in our environment through greenhouse gases and sustain our agri-food sector for generations to come. We have young people who are dependent on opportunities in the agri-food sector to continue to live in our rural communities. As we see people move into cities across the world, let us in Northern Ireland do something a bit different by ensuring that our rural communities can not just survive but thrive and continue to have a place of value to them in which people can sustain a living without having to move to cities or, indeed, other countries for employment opportunities. Let us ensure that we do not sell our young people short but do the right thing by supporting rural communities and the agri-food sector, in particular, through the Bill.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin 4:30 pm, 28th February 2022

Two climate Bills, months of Committee scrutiny, 80-plus amendments at Consideration Stage and 70 amendments at Further Consideration Stage today show the interest in and the importance of climate legislation. It also shows the importance of the efforts of all of us to get it right for our citizens. That is the spirit in which Sinn Féin has approached the climate legislation debate to date, and it is further evidenced by our amendments today. The North needs a climate Bill that is ambitious, fair and deliverable and that, in the context of this jurisdiction, plays its part in achieving the scientific necessity of keeping to the Paris agreement targets. Given the IPCC report that came out today, that should be the clear focus for every one of us who is determined to fight back against global warming.

Our legislation must be fair to individuals and to all sectors of society, such as transport, including shipping and aviation, infrastructure, our energy sector, our business community and waste management, and it must be fair to our agriculture sector. I have said at every stage of the Bill that no sector of our society can be left behind. I thank the Minister for recounting my comments at Consideration Stage about Sinn Féin's protections for our agriculture sector. At every stage of the process, Sinn Féin has submitted amendments in the interests of being fair and to make the Bill both more ambitious and fair to those in society whom it will affect.

Our amendment No 2 is, again, an attempt to strength our previous amendments to protect our agriculture sector on our pathway to net zero. It states:

"departments must ensure that... biogenic methane reductions make a fair and proportionate contribution to achieving long-term temperature goals as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement."

Those are all encompassed within the main target of the Bill, which is to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I hope that that will have the support of all of us in the Chamber, and I hope that it has the support of the agriculture and agri-food sector. Sinn Féin will leave no sector behind. We will stand by our farming, agricultural and rural communities, as we always have. It should never have become a battle between agriculture and the environment. Whilst it may have suited some in the Chamber to frame it that way, that has done a disservice to the climate legislation debate.

The same could be said of the Minister's amendment No 17, which would exclude the agriculture sector from the outworkings of the Bill. It is a total nonsense amendment. When I first saw the amendment, I thought that it was an early April Fool's joke. I hope that the Minister reads today's IPCC report and that it resonates with him. The Minister needs to realise that we need to move on climate change and to protect our farmers and agri-food sector, as, in the North, it will be they who will be hit hardest by the impact of global warming in the years to come. He is the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and he needs to start acting as such. We can have ambitious climate legislation that protects our environment and our agriculture sector. Each is dependent on the other. The Minister does not need to take my word for it: the farming sector has repeatedly stated that it needs and wants to be part of the climate change solution. It wants to play its part in a fair and proportionate manner. Our amendment No 2, rather than the Minister's amendment No 17, will allow our farmers to do that.

We will oppose amendment No 17 and amendment Nos 9, 11, 13 and 14, which are related to it. We will obviously support our amendment No 2. We will also move our amendment No 4 but not amendment No 3 and will support the Department's amendment No 5. We had a conversation with the Department and accept the rationale that there is a need to keep a target for 2030 in the Bill to allow for early work on carbon budgets and sectoral plans. We still believe that the 2030 and, certainly, the 2040 interim targets should be amended. Amendment No 5 allows for that to happen within the context of the unmovable target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Photo of William Irwin William Irwin DUP

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the issue and to channel the voice of the farming community into the Chamber today. I am passionate about our agri-food industry in Northern Ireland, about the benefit and security that it brings to Northern Ireland and about defending the industry from the attacks of those who seek to bite the hand that feeds them.

Farmers are very much used to the various smells that agri-food production generates. I, too, am aware of those smells.

With my keen sense of smell, I certainly detect a whiff of a U-turn from the party opposite — Sinn Féin — which has, obviously, started in recent days to listen to the voice of the farming community in Northern Ireland. That change of plan is very notable.

The recent and very obvious change of policy by Sinn Féin is certainly not before time. What is most alarming is the fact that so much time has been lost in the House debating and explaining the damage that net zero targets would bring about, be they through the Sinn Féin-supported Clare Bailey Bill or the Sinn Féin-supported amendments regarding net zero by 2050. The disregard for the farming community in the pursuit of those mindless policies has been alarming and, ultimately, hugely unsettling for our farming community across the Province. I have spoken with many farmers who are genuinely deeply concerned by the actions of certain parties in the Chamber and do not feel that they have been listened to. I assure the farmers who have contacted me that I am listening and that my votes in the House will be to their betterment and that of climate change. I will not vote to damage our agri-food industry, as others have so easily and causally done.

The Climate Change (No. 2) Bill is by no means an easy path to follow. However, because of the damaging amendments that the other parties in the House voted for, the path has been made almost impossible to implement. It has been made so costly to our Northern Ireland economy that following such folly to a conclusion would see our agri-food industry decimated and our food supply security so badly exposed that everyone in Northern Ireland would feel the effects.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 4:45 pm, 28th February 2022

I thank the Member for giving way. It is clear that Mr McGuigan, who was engaged in a monologue, as opposed to a debate, was not that keen on taking interventions. Does the Member agree that it was not this party that set a division between the farming community and what was being proposed in the legislation? If Members across the way think that farmers are stupid and that they are all about doom and gloom and nothing else, they do not understand the farming community. Farmers understood the impact that the legislation would have on the generations of work that occurred before them and that the generations that come after them would be destroyed as a consequence of the proposals that were voted through previously. Does the Member agree that the only way of saving this is by voting through the amendments that I have proposed, which will ensure that the rural community has something genuine and that some people are putting their votes where their mouths are when it comes to standing up for the rural and farming generations?

Photo of William Irwin William Irwin DUP

I thank the Minister. I certainly agree with him. Farmers are acutely aware of the dire situation that would be before them if some people had their way.

The issues of food supply and food prices have been brought into stark focus by the current worrying and ongoing situation in Ukraine. My thoughts are with the Ukrainian people at this horrible time. Ukraine has long had the name as the bread basket of Europe, owing to its output of grain and the reliance on that product by nations across Europe. Agri-food security and supply is a vital element for any country. We in Northern Ireland should not seek to limit our ability to meet domestic consumer need.

Many of the group 1 amendments that have been tabled by the Minister are vital. I urge the House to support them in full. Amendment No 1 is critical to our agri-food industry to ensure that the path that is taken by Northern Ireland is consistent with the aims of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Climate Change Committee recommendations. The UK Climate Change Committee is a body that is worth listening to. I have in Committee continually referred to the expert advice that is contained in its submissions. It is vital that we follow scientific and expert advice to best allow Northern Ireland to move forward on reducing methane outputs. The amendments that are proposed by the Minister are critical in ensuring that, while moving forward, we do not enforce unbalanced reductions in methane that would, ultimately, decimate our agri-food sector and leave us extremely vulnerable to security of supply issues.

Many parties claim to stand up for the countryside and represent large rural constituencies. It is high time that we witnessed that support in action. The House needs to pass responsible legislation that works for our agri-food industry's survival and the benefit of the climate. We also need to take a long, hard look at those countries that we rely on so heavily for cheap imported goods and that have woeful records on climate change. Indeed, they contribute very heavily to global emission outputs. I say that Northern Ireland is not the problem here. Far from it; it contributes just 0·04% to global emission outputs. We must be reasonable and calculated in our efforts on this issue.

The Minister's amendments in the second group are technical and reasonable insofar as making the Bill function more easily. They represent technical repairs to the original Bill and reduce duplication. I again urge Members to ensure that the votes taken today are responsible and add to the general movement towards improving our climate and, crucially, bringing our agri-food industry with us.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

We are maybe hearing elements of Groundhog Day. As one of the Members whom Mr McGuigan spoke about earlier as having sat through a lot of evidence — probably days of evidence — on the climate change issue, I know that it is important that we come here today from a perspective of seeking solutions and trying to work things through. A lot of people are looking at the Assembly today, concerned not only about their livelihoods and the economy but about society as a whole. Farmers, too, have children, and farmers have an interest in climate change and in mitigating its worst aspects. I have not yet met a single farmer who does not realise that he or she has a commitment and a desire to doing that and to playing their part.

As I stated during the debate on the first group of amendments, it is time to get serious about addressing the climate emergency. The SDLP supports and has supported the setting of ambitious targets for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, but bringing everyone with us is essential to achieving those targets. Ensuring a just transition is the key to doing that, and we will vote on the amendments to ensure that the correct mechanism for a just transition is put in place, albeit it is in the second group of amendments. There is also a case for streamlining the amended Bill to prevent duplication of actions and plans, and our voting will reflect that. Every Department and public body will need to assess policies and proposals on the basis of their impact on emission targets and on their effect on communities across the North to enable that just transition.

As we know, there has been a delay in bringing the necessary legislation in the Bill, which was caused by the three years when we had no Assembly. During that time, the average global temperature has continued to rise. Taken together, the past seven years were the hottest seven years on record. The trend is clear and inescapable. Throughout that time, the SDLP has been clear and committed in our ambitions.

I will go through the amendments. It is our intention to support amendment No 1. We have listened very carefully to the various sectors and the outside world, and we realise that there has to be a method and a way forward for us to achieve our aims and objectives to prevent global warming yet at the same time acknowledge the very real aspects of life in Northern Ireland. We have concerns, and I will come to those. Minister, you referred specifically to amendment No 17. I really do not think, Minister, that, if amendment No 1 passes, you will require amendment No 17, but, in any event, I really do not think that it is prudent to single out any one sector and say that emissions of greenhouse gas from agricultural sources do not count. They do. Everybody has their role to play. As I said, farmers have stated that they want to play their role, and I have not heard a single farmer say that they want to be exempted from that duty and responsibility for themselves, their family and their neighbours. We cannot support amendment No 17.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Does the Member recognise that amendment No 17 was tabled to allow Mr McGuigan and his colleagues to follow through on what they said? If you do not want any cuts to the herd, you have to accept amendment No 17, because amendment No 1 allows for the 42%, which will still present significant challenges, but, if you want to go as far as Mr McGuigan and the team claim to want in not allowing any cuts to the herd, you have to accept amendment No 17.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

I do not know what your source is, Minister. I am sure that you are as erudite as usual in your application of detail, but I cannot support it, and I think that you know fine well why.

There are concerns about highlighting one sector — by exempting it — to the exclusion of all others. As in the red diesel argument, I am sure that a long line of businesses, sectors etc would form to ask, "What are you doing for them? Why are you not doing it for us?". I am sure that you understand that, Minister, just as I have some understanding of why you have tabled your amendment.

Those are my initial comments. We are committed to seeing climate change legislation through. As a representative of a rural constituency, I share a lot of the concerns that have been relayed to me about the Bill's impact on rural communities etc, but I also see its potential and its opportunities for rural communities to diversify into and expand certain areas of the economy.

Getting together and bringing everyone with us will be essential. At times, it may be problematic and difficult, but that is where leadership kicks in. That is where people and leaders lead by example and take us, hopefully, to a better place, with the creation of a society that has to think of others and of the impacts of what we, as legislators, do in the Assembly.

Photo of Rosemary Barton Rosemary Barton UUP

I welcome the opportunity to speak in the debate. It is important at this stage that the Bill consider the interests of all who are concerned with climate change, including those who consider that we have a crisis and those who want to work to improve the situation by helping to find a meaningful solution to reduce the effects of climate change.

There is little doubt that the scientific data that has been collected in Northern Ireland points the finger at the emissions of the agriculture and transport industries, with agriculture accounting for 26% of the Northern Ireland carbon footprint. However, while the agriculture sector in Northern Ireland is the highest contributor, it understands that mitigations are needed to protect the climate and recognises the important role that it will have to play in reducing Northern Ireland's emissions. I have no doubt that our agriculture sector and our agri-economy are willing to play their part, in line with the Climate Change Committee, in the setting of achievable targets.

Throughout Consideration Stage, my party made it clear that, yes, a climate change Bill is needed. Progress that contributes to the passage of this Bill must reflect a policy that encourages our agriculture community to work towards change with scientific research. However, our agriculture industry must be supported and cannot suffer serious consequences as a result of the Bill.

Most of the amendments that you tabled for this afternoon, Minister, are technical; we understand that. Let me go through them and state our position.

In group 1, we support amendment No 1, which still has an ambitious reduction target but is in line with the Climate Change Committee's advice as it has a pathway around methane while protecting rural communities. Like you, we thought that amendment No 2 complemented amendment No 1, but that is not the case, I understand. Amendment No 3, which is from Sinn Féin, clarifies the targets, while amendment No 4 amends the target to 2050. We will support both those amendments. While the Minister's new clause in Amendment No 5 aligns targets 2030, 2040 and 2050 with net zero — we hope to support those — amendment No 6 sets the baseline for methane to 1990, as agreed at Consideration Stage. We support that, along with the Minister's tidying-up amendment Nos 7 to 15. Amendment Nos 18 and 19 again are tidying up after Consideration Stage, and we will support them.

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance 5:00 pm, 28th February 2022

On 1 February, the Assembly voted in favour of a target of having net zero emissions for Northern Ireland for the benefit of our environment, our people and our prosperity. The net zero by 2050 target encompassed all greenhouse gases and gave no special regard to any gas. Therefore, I am baffled about why two parties have tabled amendments to decouple methane from other greenhouse gases, contrary to the will of the House and, it seems, to the advice of the UK Climate Change Committee, which is so often quoted in these debates and which has not recommended decoupling any gases for achieving greenhouse gas net zero targets. If we take that approach and give methane special regard over the other greenhouse gases, we not only separate ourselves from the approach taken in neighbouring jurisdictions but we take a unique and untested approach that could jeopardise our future.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance

I will give way this once, but I want to make progress.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank the Member for giving way. I would like him to elaborate on what new advice he has received from the UK CCC or, indeed, the IPCC that we need 100% for methane. They gave an overall recommendation of 82% in the first place. If they have now changed to 100% for everything, that certainly comes as news to me, my Department and everybody else. If he has something, I would be happy to hear from him.

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance

I thank the Minister for his intervention. I made reference to the absence of advice regarding decoupling and to the fact that neighbouring jurisdictions have not resorted to such actions.

It is timely that the IPCC report 'Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability' has come on the same day as this debate on the long overdue decarbonisation of the Northern Ireland economy. The IPCC findings are a frightening reminder — I might refer to them later — that climate change legislation is not just critical but urgent. Northern Ireland lags way behind in tackling the climate crisis, and we remain the only place in the UK, Ireland or Europe not to have our own form of net zero climate law. The impact of climate legislation on our emissions will depend substantively on the strength of the law that we make and the rigour with which it is implemented. This is our opportunity to create strong, effective climate legislation. If we fall behind now, we risk staying behind for ever and losing out on the economic benefits of new green industries, with new jobs and export opportunities; ecological benefits, with more biodiversity, better air quality, more green space to enjoy; better infrastructure; less climate damage, such as flooding; and, finally, the community benefits, including quieter streets, active travel, healthier diets, smart cities and comfortable homes.

I will turn to the Minister's amendments. Alliance will oppose efforts by the Minister to give methane special regard for the reasons that I have outlined and because that is an unconstructive basis for developing effective policy and legislation to tackle the crisis that I have just described.

Amendment No 2, which is Sinn Féin's amendment to separate biogenic methane emissions, also causes problems. Representatives from the environmental sector, including Northern Ireland Environment Link, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB, to name but a few — I am grateful for the work done by all those organisations — have made a strong case for not separating or excluding methane or agricultural emissions from the net zero target.

I turn to amendment No 17. Alliance strongly opposes the Minister's attempt to exempt agricultural emissions from the overall target of the Bill. The agriculture sector has not only overtaken transport to become the sector that emits the largest proportion of greenhouse gases in Northern Ireland but is, in fact, the only sector in Northern Ireland that has increased its emissions in recent years. Those are harsh realities but realities nonetheless. In Northern Ireland, in 2019, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture were 471,000 tons CO2 equivalent, which was an increase of 9% on the figure for 2008, when the UK Climate Change Act was passed. To give one sector the freedom to continue to increase emissions is contrary not only to the will of the Assembly but to the Climate Change Committee's advice and our commitment under the UK Climate Change Act.

No one underestimates the impact that the target would have on our agri-food sector, but we must consider it at a broader level. Today's IPCC report confirmed what we all know: wealthy nations such as the UK bear disproportionate responsibility for climate change but are the least exposed to its disastrous effects. Low-income communities in the global south urgently need justice to cope with the escalating loss and damage and to adapt for the future. To create loopholes and exemptions in our responsibilities in Northern Ireland is to turn our back on those who are most at risk from and least responsible for the climate emergency. Not only that, but, in protecting one strand of one industry, we stand to lose enormous economic and social opportunities and confine Northern Ireland to being the carbon outlier of Europe.

We need ambition at political level, because the opportunities are ours for the taking. The race to net zero drives growth and economic opportunity amongst our neighbours and competitors; we can no longer be the exception to ambition. We are undoubtedly lagging behind in tackling the climate crisis, and we should not slip further behind. If we wish, we can hit the ground running with best practice that has already been tried and tested in other regions and countries.

I appeal to political colleagues on all sides of the House to consider the implications of taking a different approach to that taken in the UK and Ireland. If we fall behind now, we could stay behind for ever. I close with a quotation from the IPCC report:

"Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people".

That report is:

"a dire warning about the consequences of inaction".

Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin

There has been huge focus on this debate. We have been working on it since last May, when the first of the climate change Bills came to the Committee. We have listened intensively to all of the sectors, including the farming sector. We have listened to farmers on their doorsteps, in their sheds and in different places. They have valid concerns. They are also in the eye of the storm. Climate has a huge impact on agriculture. On Saturday, my colleague Emma Sheerin MLA and I were in Glenelly again, as, unfortunately, the valley has been hit by storms again. The three named storms of last week hit the valley and did a lot of destruction, washing away a lot of riverbanks, destroying ground and all the rest of it. Farmers are at the centre of climatic change.

We have listened carefully and intensively over the last number of months. We want climate change legislation that is effective but does not impact disproportionately on farmers or any other sector. At Consideration Stage, we either tabled or supported a number of what, we felt, were important amendments to strengthen the Bill by helping to mitigate the impact on the farming community. They included the requirements for co-design of the climate action plans through a 16-week consultation, rural-proofing, equality-proofing, economic-proofing, small business impact-proofing and, of course, the agricultural fund.

At Consideration Stage, we also brought in an amendment to require the Department to consider the special economic and social role of farming when working up the climate action plans. Indeed, we also introduced an amendment on methane. At this stage, we have built on those amendments. We have continued to listen. We have tabled further amendments to strengthen protections, including making it clear:

"targets for biogenic methane reductions make a fair and proportionate contribution to achieving long-term temperature goals".

That was done on the basis of listening. For example, I was at the conference and listened carefully to Professor Myles Allen of the University of Oxford, who is a world expert on the matter. We have also listened to good developments. Earlier today, the Minister spoke about some of those developments, including the use of seaweed as a food additive. Last week, I noticed that the EU signed off on additives to feed that will potentially reduce methane emissions by up to 35%. Some really good stuff is happening. Through our Committee, I get six-weekly reports from the Department on the great mitigation work that is going on in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Teagasc and universities, North and South. That is all very good and hopeful.

I am from a farming family and represent a rural constituency. Again, we have been listening. We have tabled a whole series of amendments that we believe strengthen the Bill to protect the agri-food sector. That is really important. Our amendment No 2 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 1. That was not necessarily our decision, but it is just the way that it is. We will certainly be supporting our own amendment. My colleague Philip has already outlined the other amendments that we will be supporting.

Photo of Harry Harvey Harry Harvey DUP

I will base the majority of my remarks around the fundamental amendment in the group, which is amendment No 1, and the other amendments that flow from it. Unfortunately, the Bill, as now amended, is a far cry from the Minister's original Bill, which was based on science and the recommendations from the UK Climate Change Committee. That having been said, I welcome any amendments that seek to reflect current science and return us from the politics of unrealistic pipe dreams to workable solutions for tackling our emissions.

Both amendment Nos 1 and 2 address the need to deal with methane emissions as a separate and distinct entity. That is a fundamental necessity if we are to achieve a workable piece of legislation. There is no doubt that the Climate Change (No. 2) Bill will shape our economy and, more widely, our society for the future. It must protect jobs, rural communities and the production of high-quality local food whilst providing an ambitious road map for reducing carbon emissions and global warming generally. As such, I welcome the change in direction from Sinn Féin that is evident in the amendments that are now before us at Further Consideration Stage. It is a change of heart for the better and will be welcomed by the agriculture sector as a whole.

It is vital that we focus on ensuring that Northern Ireland is a world leader in global warming mitigation through the creation of a sustainable economy and an efficient, climate-friendly agri-food sector. As has already been mentioned, over the past number of weeks, with the Ukraine conflict, we have been reminded not to depend on food imports. Now more than ever before, it is important that we have the ability to produce our own food. The House has a duty to the people of Northern Ireland to ensure that that is the case. The Department's amendment Nos 1, 5, 6, 15, 17, 18 and 19 speak to that.

It is intended that the outworking of amendment No 1 will be to place a safeguarding mechanism in the Bill to ensure that, in the context of aiming for overall net zero, disproportionate reductions in methane emissions are not pursued. It is necessary that the level of reductions in methane emissions that are outlined be consistent with advice from the IPCC, the UK CCC's "balanced pathway" recommendations on methane and the ambition that we should have to reduce emissions of it.

Even those who supported net zero can support amendment No 1, and they should do so as it protects and preserves the overall net zero target, which was the will of the House. Amendment No 1 will protect the net zero target whilst ensuring that the impact on our agri-food sector is closely monitored and consistent with the advice and guidance of the experts. Many in the House may want to vilify our agri-food sector, but we all need to support the sector and recognise that farmers, rather than being part of the problem, as many in the House would have us believe, are part of the solution.

A number of the amendments in group 1 will no doubt provide a degree of comfort to the agri-food sector after a period of immense concern. There is now an opportunity for Members to provide the sector with certainty and a bespoke road map to reassure it that it will not be used as a sacrificial lamb in achieving net zero.

I urge Members to put votes to their words of support for agriculture and vote, in particular, for amendment No 1.

Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin 5:15 pm, 28th February 2022

I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the Further Consideration Stage debate. I am delighted that we are at a point where the passage of this important piece of legislation is nearing its conclusion. The Bill, as amended at Consideration Stage, provides climate legislation that is ambitious and achievable and provides for a fair and just transition to net zero.

The context of the debate is the IPCC's latest report, which highlights the irreversible nature of the impacts of climate change and the need for us to take necessary and urgent action. Sinn Féin's amendments at Consideration Stage were about standing up for our communities, workers, families, rural communities and our family farms. As Philip said, there is huge interest in the Bill and in the need to tackle climate breakdown. I have listened to many people, including many young people, who are demanding climate action. I have also listened to those who have expressed concerns, including those from our rural and agricultural community who have expressed genuine concern: they want to play their part but are concerned about how the Bill's provisions will impact on them. Those communities should look at our track record, including that of previous Sinn Féin Agriculture Ministers. Our priority has been to deliver for family farms and rural communities, including protecting them against the disastrous impact of Brexit and the threat of climate change.

The amendments that have been tabled at this stage are largely technical and tidying-up amendments. Amendment No 2 provides protection for agricultural and rural communities, ensuring that biogenic methane makes a fair and proportionate contribution to the overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That, along with the other protections and amendments that were made at Consideration Stage to enshrine the principles of just transition, which are now clearly defined in the Bill, will provide important protections. As my colleague Philip McGuigan outlined, Sinn Féin wants to ensure that no sector and none of our communities are left behind.

The amendments will ensure that those who are in industries that have the biggest changes to make and those who can least afford it, including lower-income workers and families, small businesses, people who are stuck in fossil fuel dependency — Members have referred to the invasion of Ukraine and the impact that that is having on prices — will be taken into account, and that any plans that are being developed must provide for a fair transition. Similarly, the big polluters and big businesses have a responsibility to step up to the plate and do their share to ensure that ambitious targets are met.

Our amendment Nos 3 and 4 are also tidying-up amendments to ensure that clause 2 and clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill align. Mr McGuigan has outlined our position on keeping a target for 2030 but allowing for further work to be done to ensure that the 2040 targets align with achieving net zero by 2050. So, we will move amendment No 3 but not amendment No 4.

In relation to the Minister's amendments, we oppose amendment No 17, as it undermines the purpose of the Bill. It does not reflect the opinions of many farmers who want to play their part in the fight against climate change with the support of government. We all collectively can and should play our parts. Sinn Féin wants to ensure a fair path for all our communities and sectors with the support of government. The Bill can provide that.

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

The action taken by the majority in the House at Consideration Stage of the Bill to change the target to net zero by 2050 was a retrograde step. Not only did the target go against the scientific evidence, no costings were provided for it and no farming industry could adhere to it.

Amendment No 1 seeks to redress that issue and is consistent with the IPCC and the carbon capture and storage (CCS) balanced pathway recommendations. Following the last debate in the House, the agri-food industry was dealt a serious body blow. Many in the industry saw it as the end of a career that had been handed down to them through many generations. That is exactly what the House did when it voted through all those amendments that changed the very face of the Bill, which had been brought forward by the Minister based on scientific evidence. It was changed into something unrecognisable that spelt disaster for the agri-food sector. Therefore, at Further Consideration Stage, I urge Members who have paid lip service to the agri-food sector throughout the process to now do the right thing and vote for the amendments tabled by the Minister, which are fair and just for the industry.

Sinn Féin decided to ignore all scientific evidence and plough on with support for amendments to the Bill to shape it in line with its vanity project, a private Member's Bill that they co-sponsored while ignoring the farming community. The fact that such moves would jeopardise our agriculture industry to the extent that 86% of the industry would be assigned to the dustbin of history was reckless, to say the least. The first set of amendments protect and preserve the overall net zero target while providing some degree of protection for our agriculture sector.

In the light of the ongoing events in Russia and Ukraine, the Assembly should stop and take note that our duty and responsibility to our people is to assist them to provide the essentials that we need for all aspects of life. Those issues are debated every week in the House: food, heat, housing, law and order etc.

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance

I am grateful to the Member for giving way. Will the Member accept that the UK Climate Change Committee's six carbon audits and its report 'The UK’s path to Net Zero' indicate that there should be no separation of gasses? The advice is to keep greenhouse gasses together for the best results. Does the Member accept that?

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

I accept that if Northern Ireland does nothing, it will still meet the UK's targets as set out.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

Will the Member agree that Mr Blair made a point about alleged compliance with the UK Climate Change Committee, yet he is a Member of the House who voted to defy the recommendation of the UK Climate Change Committee when he refused to accept its recommendation of 82%?

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

Absolutely. The point is very well made. Indeed, it was not only Mr Blair; other Members did exactly the same thing.

If we are to learn anything from the past week, it is to not rely on others for essentials but to be as self-sufficient as possible. Why, then, do some in the House want to destroy that which we already have? Russia and Ukraine account for a third of the world's exports, a fifth of our corn trade and almost 80% of sunflower oil production, with Ukraine being given the nickname "the breadbasket of Europe". Our aim should be to invest in our agriculture sector to maintain and build on our production capacity while seeking to reduce the impact on our environment. The first group of amendments that the Minister has tabled allow us to do that.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for giving way. The Member has spoken a number of times about protecting and investing in our agriculture community. He sits with me on the AERA Committee. We recently discussed the Minister's future agriculture policy. I will not embarrass the Member, but when we talked about the Minister's proposals and cutting the payment from 10 hectares —

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Order. I hope that this is relevant to the amendments that are before us, Mr McGuigan.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin

It is, absolutely. It is about the proposal to cut the payment from 10 hectares to three hectares. One of the DUP Members said that, if this proposal got through, it would decimate our rural communities.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Order. That was clearly not relevant to this amendment. I will bear that in mind the next time the Member has an intervention. I gave a direction and asked for reassurance that it was relevant to the amendments. I urge Members to come back to the legislation that is in front of us and deal with the amendments.

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Of course, the Member was trying to widen the horizon here, and he knows quite well that that is out for consultation. When the consultation finishes, that will be dealt with appropriately.

We in this House should all be aware of the importance of agriculture in all aspects of today's society: in providing energy for our homes, price stability for our citizens, the use of renewable biomethane gas from the anaerobic digesters and many other developments within the agriculture sector. Rather than vilify our agri-food sector, we should be striving to support the it, as the Minister has sought to do since taking up office, and recognising that farmers are actually part of the solution, rather than the problem, as many in this House seek to portray. It is a sad reality that many of us from the wide rural communities see elected Members from those communities actually vilifying the farmers and the agriculture industry. That is a shame on those sitting around the House today.

Today's amendments tabled by the Minister provide comfort to the agri-food sector after many weeks of concern and anxiety and not knowing where their businesses will end up. Those amendments will go some way to rectifying the damage caused by those that were passed in the previous debate in the House. They have the full support of the farming community. Those who are in touch with people on the ground will know that all those people — from the young to the women that we have been looking at in agriculture and others — know that the Minister's amendments have the full support of the agriculture sector.

Why others chose to go against this is beyond me. It is vital, for the future of the agriculture industry, rural communities and many other aspects of society, that these amendments receive the support of the House. There is little point in saying on one hand that we support our young people going into agriculture, the family farms and the industry as a whole, and then, on the other hand, going into the Lobbies and voting for something that is going to tear it apart.

I say to folk around the Chamber, do the right thing today and support the agriculture industry.

Photo of Emma Sheerin Emma Sheerin Sinn Féin

I am speaking in support of the amendments that have been tabled by my colleagues Caoimhe Archibald, Declan McAleer and Philip McGuigan. At the outset, and given the comments from the Member who spoke just before me and made reference to the fact that there is no point in supporting the industry and speaking about the industry and then voting for something that will decimate it, I remind him that he and his party supported Brexit, which is obviously the biggest threat to agriculture in the North since we joined the EU and put money into the pockets of our farmers.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Order. I was allowing a passing comment. Let us not have a debate about the EU and Brexit. Please come back to the Bill.

Photo of Emma Sheerin Emma Sheerin Sinn Féin

I will do. None of these things can be taken in isolation, and that is the point that I was making.

As has already been said by my colleagues, amendment No 2 is a strengthening of previous amendments tabled by Sinn Féin. Throughout this process, we have spoken and listened to all affected sectors, including our agricultural community, and have taken their concerns on board. Amendment No 2 is a response to that, because Sinn Féin has a strong history of supporting agriculture and specifically our small farmers. I am the daughter of one of those farmers. Sinn Féin delivered for our hill farmers, made sheep farming in the Sperrins a viable livelihood and attempted to level the playing field with a transition to a flat rate, which was subsequently cancelled by the DUP.

We have listened to the evidence throughout this process and made amendments that will mean that the demands on all sectors are fair, just and proportionate, that the industries that have to change in order to meet climate targets are asked to do things that are proportionate, fair and just, that farmers do not have to do more than anyone else, that food production is still an option for small farmers and rural families in the North of Ireland, and that young farmers can plan for a future.

We want to see families in rural communities such as south Derry and mid-Ulster, where I am a representative, be able to invest in their businesses and farms safe in the knowledge that they will be supported by government, in spite of the wishes of those who have dragged us out of the EU against the wishes of the majority of the people in the North. You cannot give with one hand whilst taking away with the other. Sinn Féin has been consistent in its support for rural communities and farming families.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green 5:30 pm, 28th February 2022

Since the introduction of the first Climate Change Bill and a net zero ambition, it has become clear that tasking the very Ministry that has responsibility for our biggest emitting industry to bring forward a climate Bill was never going to work. We need to be really honest and speak to climate change as being the real challenge rather than targets being a significant challenge for some, because all sectors and all people need to be protected, not just some.

The title of the group 1 amendments is "Methane and interim emissions targets, carbon units and carbon budgets", and that is what I will speak to. Throughout the debates in the Chamber on climate legislation, the advice of the UK Government's Climate Change Committee was often quoted, and rightly so, and we must follow the science, as evidence, and the expertise behind it. The CCC said that we should have a target of at least 82% but have the political choice to go for net zero if we wanted. As I have quoted many times, the CCC's chief executive, Chris Stark, said that:

"There's no technical barrier to Northern Ireland reaching net-zero emissions."

What the Assembly has agreed so far is perfectly consistent with the scientific and expert advice, but the proposed amendments represent an attempt to disregard the facts completely.

In its 2019 report, 'Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK', the CCC stated:

"It is clear that agricultural (and other) methane emissions must be significantly reduced globally and in the UK, to meet the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement and the UK’s 2050 net-zero target."

In its 2019 report, 'Net Zero: The UK's contribution to stopping global warming', the CCC stated:

"Within the UK, a 100% all-GHG target sends a clear signal that all greenhouse gases matter and all need to be reduced. No sources of emissions can qualify for special treatment. All emissions from all sectors must be eliminated or offset with removals."

All greenhouse gases matter, yet before us we have amendments to introduce split targets for methane, a gas that has a warming effect that is 84 times that of carbon dioxide. To have a less ambitious target for methane would serve to fundamentally undermine Northern Ireland's climate action and ambition, and therefore we lose credibility on any claims that we might want to make that we recognise that we are in a climate emergency.

By allowing the amendments, we turn our back on the crisis. We refuse to take responsibility. We fail to show leadership, and we endorse climate denial becoming climate delay. The Green Party cannot and will not endorse that. Split targets have proved to be insufficient elsewhere, and they will prove to be insufficient here.

I urge Members not to go down that path.

The CCC could not have been clearer. It stated:

"No sources of emissions can qualify for special treatment", yet the Minister's amendment No 17 proposes to exempt agriculture from emissions targets altogether. That is hardly following the science, no matter how tricky you might find it to understand. The Minister's version of science seems to be that, if we do not count the emissions, they are not there. Denial is not an option. Unfortunately, as much as some might like to, we will not address the crisis by pretending that it is not there.

Just last week, we saw the effect of climate breakdown and how it is affecting Northern Ireland. Are we really proposing to just ignore the increasingly frequent extreme weather patterns and deny that they ever happened? If people's homes flood, do we just propose to ignore it and pretend that it did not happen? I am sad but not at all surprised that it feels as though climate denial has come back to the Chamber. As well as harming our planet, that approach lets our farmers down.

If passed, amendment No 17 would turn Northern Ireland's agriculture sector into a global climate laggard. While farms and farmers across the world are striving for net zero, Northern Ireland will be left behind. As consumers and international investors begin to look at the climate impact of their financial decisions, Northern Ireland agriculture will increasingly be locked out of the opportunities associated with being a global climate player. Instead of our farms being able to avail themselves of the opportunities presented by net zero, they will be reputationally harmed, and the status of our produce downgraded by the implication that we do not take the climate crisis seriously and are not doing all that we can to reduce agricultural emissions. Amendment No 17 is scientifically illiterate. It will harm our planet and our farmers.

The Green Party will also oppose Sinn Féin's amendment on ensuring:

"targets for biogenic methane ... make a fair and proportionate contribution to achieving [the] goals [of the] Paris Agreement."

Referring to the goals of the Paris agreement in that context is confusing and makes little sense when the Bill has an overarching net zero-specific target. If methane emission reductions do not help to achieve the overall target, they are not appropriate, regardless of whether it can be argued that they contribute to achieving the goals of the Paris agreement.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for giving way. I am a wee bit confused about the Member's opposition to our amendment. Maybe she would explain whether she disagrees with the "fair and proportionate" methane reductions or the:

"contribution to achieving [the] long-term goals" of the Paris agreement. That is all in the context of all gases making a fair contribution to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That will not change by passing our amendment.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

I thank the Member for that. My opposition is in the context of the amendment paving the way for split targets, a point that I already addressed. All the parties that supported and voted for net zero emissions really need to think about that.

The IPCC released its latest report just a few short hours ago at 11.00 am. It is its bleakest report to date. Last year, it told us that humanity was facing "code red". In its findings today, it told us of:

"an atlas of human suffering [and a] damning indictment of failed climate leadership."

UN Secretary General António Guterres stated:

"I've seen many reports, but nothing like this".

Headlines around the world today are telling us of the:

"'bleakest warning yet' of the impacts of climate breakdown".

The report states that human actions are causing "dangerous ... disruption" and suggests:

"the window to secure a liveable future" is closing.

Headlines are telling us that half the world is "highly vulnerable" to the crisis. Impacts of global warming are now simply "irreversible", according to the UN's latest assessment. Climate change is causing "widespread" and "irreversible" impacts. The IPCC report says that up 3·6 billion people are "highly vulnerable to climate change", largely from extreme heat, heavy rainfall, drought and fire. I can assure Members that those 3·6 billion people are highly unlikely to be living in Western or developed nations. Those people and populations have not caused this crisis, yet they will face the worst possible consequences. We owe them a future, not split targets.

Today, the IPCC chair warned us:

"Half measures are no longer an option."

We have a moral duty to future generations and to our planet to reject the half measures proposed today. We must not pass amendments that weaken legislation. When the scientific evidence from the IPCC shows us that things are worse than we realised, we should respond by stepping up, not by burying our heads in the sand. It is time to face up to our responsibilities as legislators and as political leaders. We must acknowledge the privilege that we stand in and pass the strong net zero climate legislation that Northern Ireland needs.

In this group of amendments, we will support amendment Nos 3, 4, 15, 16 and 18.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

Each of the succeeding stages of the Bill has seen the triumph of ideology over reality. One would have hoped that today, given the geopolitical matters that are unfolding before us and the economic and food consequences of what is happening in Ukraine, there might just have been a chance of reality overcoming ideology, but it does not look like that is the case. When we consider what is happening in the world, and when we consider the fact that food production is likely to be highly prejudiced by what is happening in Ukraine, this, of all times, is the last time when any legislature in this country should be dialling down food production, yet that is the inevitable consequence of the ideologically driven climate change legislation — the Climate Change Bill — from Ms Bailey and the better version, the Climate Change (No. 2) Bill.

Today, we will hear, and have heard, many protestations for the gullible that those who are the pursuers of such ideology are, in fact, on the side of the farmers. Increasingly, that is not conning anyone. Amendment No 17 will be the litmus test of whether Members are on the side of farming or against farming, and we will see in this evening's speeches that, despite all the pious platitudes, when it comes down to it, the SDLP, Alliance, Sinn Féin and the Greens will vote against protecting the farming community. That is the reality of where they are headed.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin

Again, I am confused about the Member's support for amendment No 17 and his being on the side of agriculture, given, as I said earlier, that the agriculture sector has not said that it does not want to play its part in this. It has actually said the opposite: it needs to play its part because it will suffer if climate change is not tackled. Our opposition to amendment No 17 has absolutely nothing to do with anything other than our support for our agriculture sector.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice 5:45 pm, 28th February 2022

Where his farmers are concerned, maybe if Mr McGuigan had come to the meeting in Loughguile that he ran away from, he would have heard a very different message, but then he comes to the House and pretends that farmers are supportive of the Bill. Farmers are petrified by much of the devastation that will flow from the Bill, and rightly so, because the Bill, and particularly the Bill that he co-sponsored, will see a drastic reduction in livestock numbers and, therefore, in the numbers of farms, particularly hill farms and those in less-favoured areas, directly as a consequence of the ideology that the Member pursues and that Sinn Féin is pursuing in the House. It is those in that party who are the masters of reducing our agriculture industry, despite all the pious words, because their actions speak louder than their words. That is what we are seeing playing out before our very eyes in the debate.

I support amendment No 1. It is still a very difficult and ambitious target, and no one should be under any illusion about that. It will still impose a heavy price on agriculture, but, faced with the uninhibited destruction of our agriculture sector, amendment No 1 is better than paying that price. Anyone who is making the best choices will choose to support amendment No 1.

I marvel at the meaninglessness of the language of amendment No 2. It talks about:

"a fair and proportionate contribution".

According to whose standards? Who decides that? By what measure is that made? Those are just meaningless words that mean whatever you want them to. I trust that amendment No 1, since apparently amendment No 2 is incompatible with it, is the one that will hold sway. It really needs the sustaining back-up of amendment No 17. I make it very clear to farmers across Northern Ireland that those who will tonight vote against amendment No 17 are those who are in the business of putting many of them out of business.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I call Edwin Poots, the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, to make his winding-up speech on the debate on the group 1 amendments.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I am grateful for Members' contributions to the debate thus far. They have been valuable and informative. I ask Members to support amendment Nos 1 and 17 today. Amendment No 1 covers potential levels of methane reductions in the context of the net zero emissions targets. I remind Members that methane levels are set not within a supplementary target but are a clarification on a fair contribution towards NI net zero. Some Members have said that that amendment will undermine our ability to reduce overall emissions and will limit our ability to reduce our contribution to global warming. That is simply not true. My amendment does not limit the Assembly's climate ambition.

I note also that on 'Farm Gate' this morning, the Green Party said that the Climate Change Committee had said that no sources of emission can qualify for special treatment and that all emissions from all sectors must be eliminated or offset with removals. I would like to be clear that my amendment No 1 does not apply a special treatment to methane, and to make such a statement is wrong. That demonstrates those Members' lack of understanding of climate science. The Paris agreement and the advice of experts, including the IPCC, concluded that deep emissions reductions will still have to be made in the agriculture sector, and net zero will still need to be achieved by Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole under the amended Bill. In order to achieve net zero or net emission reductions of other greenhouse gases, we will need to go beyond net zero. Therefore, that means having more removals, including engineered removals, than emissions of those particular gases.

I will highlight that, in every scenario, other than a complete closure of the entire agriculture sector, we were always going to need to go beyond net zero in many of the other sectors.

My amendment makes it clear to our important rural communities that they are making a fair and proportionate contribution. I find it ironic that the Green Party is now quoting the Climate Change Committee's advice to support its position on amendments, when it blatantly disregarded it in pursuit of a net zero target for Northern Ireland by 2045 and 2050.

Amendment No 1 aims to protect and support our local food production. What the Green Party and, now, the Alliance Party and some other Members continually fail to grasp is that it is important that we protect food security and do not simply offshore our emissions. If those Members actually understood agri-food production in Northern Ireland in the way that they should before they legislate, they would recognise that the carbon footprint of the milk and beef produced in Northern Ireland is considerably lower than that of most of its competitors.

Mr Blair says that the methane levels have risen over the past number of years, but that is because production has risen. Actually, methane output, compared with the production of food, has gone down. Does he really think that it would be better to do that in South America, North America or central Europe, where they will produce more methane and more greenhouse gases than we produce in Northern Ireland? Does he think that it would be better to export jobs to those places rather than have them in Northern Ireland? Alliance needs to wake up and smell the coffee. My proposal is for the good of people in Northern Ireland. It will pull us back from the brink that so many in the Chamber took us to just a few weeks ago. We will have a less environmentally sustainable system and a more negative situation with global emissions if you do not accept the proposals that I have tabled today.

Ms Bailey talks a lot about methane, but, when it comes to household waste and there is an energy-from-waste proposal on the table, she cries out for more methane coming from the landfill sites because she is not prepared to put her hand up and to support the proposal. Let us be honest about it in the Chamber: if we are going to achieve what we need to achieve —

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

In a moment. If we are going to achieve what we need to achieve, the parish pump politics of objecting to every solar panel, wind turbine, anaerobic digester and every other means of renewable energy need to stop, because we will need those things if we are going to achieve net zero. I give way.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

Thanks, Minister. You can berate me all you want about what, you think, I think, but let us not forget that we do not even have a waste strategy. That is something that you can bring forward and it is within your Department's remit, but you have failed to do so.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Order, Members. Again, we are not here to discuss in detail a waste strategy. I urge Members to come back to the amendments before us.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker, for your commentary, but we are talking about methane, and one of the big contributors of methane is landfill. People are resisting taking difficult decisions in other places. As a consequence, we produce more methane, but they are ignoring their contribution to that.

From Sinn Féin, Mr McAleer talked about Glenelly valley. Under the proposals that he voted for, he need not worry about farmers in the Glenelly valley: they will not exist, and nor will the farmers in the glens of Antrim and up in the higher regions in Dunloy and Loughguile. The farmers in Fermanagh will pretty much not exist under the proposals that Sinn Féin supported. Mr McGuigan can shake his head, but those are the facts. When we sit down with the CCC and ask, "What do we need to do to deliver this?", that is the message that comes back.

If you want to take the CCC's advice, take it by backing me today.

Mr Allister is right that amendment No 1 will not solve all the problems. We will, however, live in a changing farm environment, where there will be considerable investment in anaerobic digestion and some shift to vertical farming and horticulture as a consequence, because the heat from anaerobic digestion will make us competitive in those areas.

There is an opportunity to invest and still deliver significant agricultural output, but I recognise that that will not be without pain. I also recognise that around 13,000 farmers will, potentially, lose their farms as a consequence of what was passed at Consideration Stage. In addition, tens of thousands of people who work in the agri-food sector will lose their jobs. Sinn Féin said that it was the great friend of the eastern European and Portuguese people who came here to work in the food sector, but it is prepared to do away with their jobs. Perhaps Sinn Féin Members will stand outside factories this time and give out leaflets saying, "Sinn Féin wants legislation passed that will deny you the opportunity of working here in Northern Ireland, the place that you have made your home". Tell that to the Polish people, the Lithuanians, the Hungarians, the Portuguese and all those fine people who go into our factories and do a day's work to earn a living. They are people whom we should all respect.

Amendment No 1 would prevent such unintended and negative impacts on the agri-food sector and, most importantly, on food security. It would prevent the offshoring of food production and the resultant offshoring of emissions and negative global emissions impact. I remind you — for Mr Blair and Ms Bailey's information — that amendment No 1 aligns with the science and the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UK Climate Change Committee's balanced pathway advice and the Paris agreement. One might ask: what is not to like? I trust that Members will recognise that, in supporting our agriculture and our farming community, we must remain true to our word. I trust that they will demonstrate that support by voting accordingly.

When Members look at what is available to them in amendment No 17, they should see that it was contrived precisely because of Sinn Féin's words in the House. If Sinn Féin does not want any reductions in herd numbers, it has to support amendment No 17. You — Sinn Féin's Members — said those words, and I have produced an amendment to enable you to put your vote to them. I expect you to support what you said. I anticipate that you will engage in something that will ensure that you can stand over what you said in the Chamber.

Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for taking an intervention. During all the deliberations that we have had with the farming community, farmers have always made it clear to us that they want to be part of the solution. They are the custodians — the guardians — of the countryside, and they want to be part of the solution. I do not believe that amendment No 17 would enable that to happen.

The Minister talked earlier about the future of hill farming, and I referred to the Glenelly valley. I will make a couple of important points. If the Minister continues to defy the will of the House by not reintroducing the areas of natural constraint (ANC) hill farm payment, if he continues to push Brexit, if he continues to push his future agricultural policy —

Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin

— which deprives small farms

[Inaudible]

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Order, order. Will the Member take his seat?

I have made it clear that we are not here to rerun a wide range of other issues. I have given Members a degree of latitude. I do not jump in and intervene every time. It is clear, however, that somebody wants to start another debate. Mr McAleer, if you have a point on the amendments to finish, I will allow you to have the Floor again, but we are not here to have an alternative debate.

Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin

I will address amendment No 17. I restate that, any time that we have met representatives from the sector or heard evidence in Committee, the farmers have all made it very clear that they want to be part of the solution. I do not believe that amendment No 17 enables farmers to be part of the solution.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I am happy to take interventions from Mr McAleer, but you did not wish to give way to others, Mr McGuigan, and did not want to debate. Given that that is how you wanted it, I am happy not to engage with you. It is not because I am afraid of anything that you have to say, by the way. I am happy to take Mr McAleer's points, but there is sometimes a price to be paid for ignoring everybody else when they want to make interventions.

I will return to amendment no 17. By the way, Mr McAleer, when you go down all those divergent routes, it demonstrates that you cannot argue on the case that is before you today. I know that you tried to go down those divergent routes when you went to the Glenavon House Hotel, and that did not go down too well there either, but that was before Ms Gildernew —

Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin

I did not see the DUP at it, making its case.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

— insulted the entire audience by telling them that all they could ever do was talk about doom and gloom, thus castigating the farming community that, to be frank, puts bread and butter on our tables.

Amendment No 17 does not preclude anybody in the primary agriculture sector from engaging in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon and methane. It does not enforce or put something upon them, but nor does it in any way preclude the many farmers who want to and who will engage in doing that from ensuring that they reduce their carbon footprint and that they do so much.

Indeed, I had discussions today with officials from the Department for the Economy. Our ability to capture more biomethane and the need for a green growth strategy that invests in supporting further capture of biomethane were very prevalent in those discussions. We discussed how biomethane at 80% could be mixed with 20% hydrogen and used in boilers that people have in their home today without the boilers requiring amendment or change. How beneficial would it be if we in Northern Ireland were to produce more biomethane from the agriculture sector and put that into our systems instead of using gas, the price of which is being driven upwards because of war in Europe? The logical position is therefore to support the agri-food sector in doing what it can do to provide that food security, and not just for here but for these islands. That is important, because we get lots of things back, particularly from Great Britain. It is important that we not only make our contribution but provide a massive amount of energy, which will eventually take us to using 100% renewable energy that is produced in this country and not be relying on what happens in other places.

I particularly hope that those Members who said that they want to deliver on that climate ambition while supporting agriculture and the farming and rural community remain true to their words. Sinn Féin is backing away from its words already, so the words that its Members said in the past couple of weeks were meaningless. I hope that Members demonstrate their position of support by voting accordingly.

There is a clear and immediate need for local legislation in Northern Ireland to tackle effectively the serious issue of climate change. I am pleased that we have got to this stage of the Bill's legislative passage. I am also keen to push forward so that the Bill is agreed by the end of the mandate. We all know that tackling climate change is a complex issue that requires long-term solutions, collective efforts and a coordinated approach. As an Assembly, we have a duty to ensure that the legislation that we put in place on such a deeply impactful issue is in a form that is both coherent and effective. If my amendments in this group, and, indeed, those in group 2 that we will debate later, are voted through today, that will go some way to delivering that.

In supporting our agriculture sector, I will say this: if Sinn Féin thinks that Northern Ireland can do that alone and ignore what is going on in the rest of the world, it is, quite frankly, in la-la land.

We produce one twentieth — 5% — of the UK's emissions. China produces 22 times the emissions of the UK, which, in my book, is around 440 times the emissions of Northern Ireland. For every percentage that Northern Ireland produces, China produces 440. China is not participating in the reduction that needs to happen. Brazil is not. Russia is not. Saudi Arabia is not. The Members who think that flooding in the Glenelly valley is a consequence of climate change may think that they can stop that by their actions in Northern Ireland alone. They cannot.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I will.

All of those other countries' contributions will simply replace what we are doing. I do not propose doing nothing. The Member to whom I will give way in a moment always talks about doing nothing. We have never suggested doing nothing. We should do our bit in a way that does not destroy our economy and then hands what we were doing over to others who will produce even more greenhouse gases to replace the products that we produced.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

Thank you, Minister. Do you recognise that, in Northern Ireland, we produce higher emissions per head than China?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Ms Bailey seems to misunderstand the situation. Coal-fired power stations are being built today in China. Its emissions continue to rise. We have a war in Russia. Russia has done a 30-year deal to sell gas to China, and we buy our products from China. That is the world that we currently live in. We live in a globalised world. We need to have jobs in this country for our people, otherwise, we will go back to the 1980s, when our biggest export was the human beings who were born here.

I am proud that our agri-food industry, which was recognised for its contribution, in the Senate Chamber, when this Building opened, is still here and is still providing over 100,000 jobs here, in Northern Ireland, while the other two industries — the linen industry and the shipbuilding industry — have disappeared. Now, we can save the industry, but, if we go down the route that Ms Bailey wants us to go down, it will end up in shreds, just as the textile industry and the shipbuilding industry ended up in shreds in the lifetime —

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

Is that a no, then?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

— of this Building. I am coming to a conclusion, so I will finish at this point.

I appreciate that Members share my view of the fundamental importance of successfully addressing climate change in a way that ensures that we have a joined-up approach to tackling the issues, and that we get buy-in from all sectors, which is important. We must not push our emissions to other parts of the world, as some in the Chamber wish to do, because that will not reduce global emissions; it will decimate the most important sector of our economy if we attempt to do so. Such actions would not deliver successful outcomes in addressing climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that was published today further confirms the importance of protecting food security while reducing emissions on a global level. Do we not all have a duty to play our part in ensuring that we protect food security? We can look at what may happen in 30 years' time, but I can tell you what will happen in a few short years if we keep going the way in which we are going: we will have a significant food problem, not just here but in many parts of the world.

I remind Members that, if my amendments in this group are agreed and voted through today, in addition to my amendments that will be covered in the group 2 debate later, they will improve the effectiveness of this key legislation for Northern Ireland and will maintain and enhance the overall climate change ambition.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

The Question will be put again in three minutes. I remind Members that they should continue to uphold social distancing and that those who have proxy voting arrangements in place should not come into the Chamber.

Before I put the Question again. I remind Members that, if possible, it would be preferable to avoid a Division.

Question, That the amendment be made, put a second time and agreed to.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I will not call amendment No 2 as it is mutually exclusive to amendment No 1, which has been made.

Clause 3 (The emissions target for 2040)

Amendment No 3 proposed:

In page 2, line 3, leave out “at least 69% lower than the baseline” and insert—

<BR/>

“in line with the overall target for the year 2050”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP 6:15 pm, 28th February 2022

In accordance with Standing Order 113(5)(b), there is agreement that we can dispense with the three-minute delay, hence we have gone straight to speedy voting.

I remind Members of the requirement for social distancing while the Division takes place. Please ensure that you maintain a gap of at least 2 metres between yourself and others when moving around the Chamber or the Rotunda and especially in the Lobbies.

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 47; Noes 40

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Butler, Mr Carroll, Mr Chambers, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Mr Kearney, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Mr Nesbitt, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Stewart, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Dr Archibald, Mr McGuigan

NOES

Mr Allister, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mrs Cameron, Mr Catney, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mrs D Kelly, Mr Lyons, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Mr Newton, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Harvey, Mr Irwin

Question accordingly agreed to.

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance 6:30 pm, 28th February 2022

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I hope that you do not mind my taking us back to the vote on amendment No 1. I was a little surprised that the vote was taken orally and without a Division, despite the fact that, as I recall, there was clear opposition to it. I respect your judgement on that. However, I am puzzled about how I should record my opposition to the amendment. I was advised previously that that could be done in Hansard. Can you advise on how we can do that?

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

That is not a point of order. There have been numerous votes, particularly over the past number of weeks, and Members ought to be aware that, if they want to have a Division, they should raise their voices, particularly when the Speaker or Deputy Speaker indicates that he thinks that the Ayes or Noes have it. I did that on two occasions. At the Table, we heard nothing coming back. That indicated to me that there was no wish to force a Division and that there was acceptance of what I had estimated was the view of the Chamber.

In case there is a lack of clarity on the issue for some, perhaps, newer Members, I will say that, if you want to have a Division, you should raise your voice and should not accept the estimation that is made on the assessment of what has been raised verbally in the Chamber.

That is not a point of order. We will move on. The Member's comment is on the record.

Amendment No 4 not moved.

New Clause

Amendment No 5 proposed:

After clause 5 insert—

<BR/>

Duty to consider whether to revise targets


5A.—(1) The Department must consider whether the targets in sections 3 and 4 are consistent with meeting the emissions target in section 1(1).


(2) In relation to each of the targets in sections 3 and 4, the Department must either—


(a) lay before the Assembly draft regulations under section 5 to amend the target so as to be consistent with the target in section 1(1), or


(b) lay before the Assembly a statement explaining why it considers that the target does not need to be amended.


(3) The Department must lay draft regulations or a statement in relation to each target within the period of 2 years beginning with the day on which this Act receives Royal Assent.


(4) Section 53(2) does not apply to regulations laid before the Assembly under subsection (2)(a).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I remind Members to maintain social distancing and, in particular, to try to achieve a 2-metre gap, especially in the Lobbies.

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 76; Noes 11

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Dr Archibald, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Boylan, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Ms Brogan, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mr Delargy, Ms Dillon, Mrs Dodds, Ms Dolan, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Ms Ennis, Mrs Erskine, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Frew, Mr Gildernew, Mr Givan, Ms Hargey, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mr Lyons, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Miss Reilly, Mr Robinson, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Harvey

NOES

Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Ms Bradshaw, Mr Carroll, Mr Dickson, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr Muir, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Dickson, Mr Muir

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 6 (Meaning of “baseline”)

Amendment No 6 proposed:

In page 2, line 35, at end insert—

<BR/>

“(2A) The baseline for methane is the amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of methane in 1990.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Question put, That the amendment be made. The Assembly divided:

Ayes 76; Noes 11

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Dr Archibald, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Boylan, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Ms Brogan, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mr Delargy, Ms Dillon, Mrs Dodds, Ms Dolan, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Ms Ennis, Mrs Erskine, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Frew, Mr Gildernew, Mr Givan, Ms Hargey, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mr Lyons, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Miss Reilly, Mr Robinson, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Harvey

NOES

Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Ms Bradshaw, Mr Carroll, Mr Dickson, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr Muir, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Dickson, Mr Muir

Question accordingly agreed to.

(Mr Speaker in the Chair)

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Before we move on to the next vote, I advise Members that we will take a break at 7.30 pm. In the next hour or two after that, we will monitor the time to see when we will break this evening. With the rate of business at the minute, we will clearly be here all night, and we cannot be here all night. My worry is that we will be here all day tomorrow if we continue with the Divisions in the way that we are. That is entirely a matter for Members to choose. I just make the point that we have offered the ability for the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker to make it clear if there is a clear minority of Members opposing a measure. We can record that, and it might avoid Divisions and save a lot of time. However, it is entirely in the gift of Members to choose how they vote.

Photo of Andrew Muir Andrew Muir Alliance

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have just outlined the procedure. Can you outline practically how that would occur? Would you record their opposition in Hansard?

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

The Speaker or Deputy Speaker would basically say, "I note that party X has opposed the Question. That party's opposition is now on the record; however, I think that the Ayes have it". It would be on the record that party X, A, B, C or D had recorded its vote — well, that it had expressed a vote against. We have had votes today where we had 11 votes in opposition. That is fine, and all Members are entitled to their vote. It is just about how we process the voting mechanisms to save time and allow us to conclude the business. That is all that it is about.

Photo of Andrew Muir Andrew Muir Alliance

Further to that point of order, I thank the Speaker for providing that clarification. I would like to record our discontent with the way that the vote on amendment No 1 was handled. I would not seek to challenge the authority of the Deputy Speaker who was in the Chair at the time, but there was clear dissent in the Chamber, which, as far as I can recall, was not handled correctly. I will write to you separately about that. If we are going to go —

[Interruption.]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

I heard only a peripheral part of the conversation. I think that John Blair raised it on a point of order. I only heard an element of the response to that, so, to be fair, I cannot argue one way or another about how it happened, what happened or whether it was right or wrong. If the Member wants, I can examine that. I am trying to offer people another way. If it is clear that there is a significant majority for a measure and a clear minority against — that is everybody's entitlement, and I stress that — we can record that without necessarily going to a Division. That is what I offer to Members through that formula of words. OK? We will road-test that and see what happens.

Amendment No 7 made:

In page 3, line 2, after “(2)” insert “or (2A)”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 8 made:

In page 3, line 3, after “dioxide” insert “or methane”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Clause 7 (Meaning of “net Northern Ireland emissions account”)

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin 7:00 pm, 28th February 2022

Amendment No 9 has already been debated and is a paving amendment to amendment No 17.

Amendment No 9 proposed:

In page 3, line 10, after “8” insert “, 8A”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Do the Ayes have it?

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Can we take an acknowledgement of a party having voted against? We will just make the call if you want. OK, do we have Tellers?

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 49; Noes 37

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mrs D Kelly, Mr Lyons, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGrath, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Harvey

NOES

Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Carroll, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Mr Kearney, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Noes: Mr McAleer, Ms Sheerin

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment No 10 made:

In page 3, line 18, leave out ‘(see subsection (3))’ and insert ‘or the net Northern Ireland emissions account for methane (see subsections (3) and (4))&#x0027; — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Amendment No 11 is a paving amendment to amendment No 17.

Amendment No 11 proposed:

In page 3, line 22, after “8” insert “, 8A”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Question put, That the amendment be made. The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 38; Noes 49

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Harvey

NOES

Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Noes: Mr McGuigan, Ms Sheerin

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Members, I propose, by leave of the Assembly, to suspend the sitting until 8.00 pm for people to get something to eat and some refreshments.

The debate stood suspended.

The sitting was suspended at 7.24 pm and resumed at 8.02 pm.

Debate resumed.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Amendment No 12 has already been debated.

Amendment No 12 proposed:

In page 3, line 28, at end insert—

<BR/>

“(4) The net Northern Ireland emissions account for methane for 2050 is the amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of methane for 2050 (which is to be determined in accordance with sections 8 and 9).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

As amendment No 13 is an amendment to amendment No 12, we need to dispose of amendment No 13 before returning to amendment No 12. Amendment No 13 has already been debated, and is a paving amendment to amendment No 17.

Amendment No 13, as an amendment to amendment No 12, proposed:

After “8” insert “, 8A”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Do the Ayes have it? Do the Ayes have it? Are Members content to have it recorded —? Sinn Féin has opposed that amendment. Sinn Féin's opposition is on the record? Are Members content? If not, we will go to a vote.

[Pause.]

A Member:

[Inaudible.]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

You want it on the record?

A Member:

[Inaudible.]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

OK; let the record show that Sinn Féin voted against amendment No 13.

A Member:

And Alliance.

A Member:

Yes.

A Member:

[Inaudible.]

A Member:

Yes.

Photo of Trevor Clarke Trevor Clarke DUP

Och, you might as well have a vote.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Well, if there are that many, I will go to a Division.

Question put a second time.

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 38; Noes 49

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Irwin

NOES

Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Noes: Mr McAleer, Ms Sheerin

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment No 12 made:

In page 3, line 28, at end insert—

<BR/>

“(4) The net Northern Ireland emissions account for methane for 2050 is the amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of methane for 2050 (which is to be determined in accordance with sections 8 and 9).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Clause 8 (Meaning of “net Northern Ireland emissions”)

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Amendment No 14 has already been debated and is a paving amendment to amendment No 17.

Amendment No 14 proposed:

In page 3, line 39, after “period,” insert—

<BR/>

“except those excluded under section 8A,”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Question put, That the amendment be made. The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 38; Noes 49

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Harvey

NOES

Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Noes: Ms Dillon, Mr Gildernew

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment No 15 made:

In page 4, line 6, leave out paragraph (d) and insert—



“(d) the use of carbon capture and storage technology.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

I will not call amendment No 16 as it is mutually exclusive to amendment No 15, which has been made.

New Clause

Amendment No 17 proposed:

After clause 8 insert—

<BR/>

Meaning of ‘Northern Ireland emissions’: agriculture


8A.—(1) Emissions of a greenhouse gas from agricultural sources do not count as Northern Ireland emissions of the gas.


(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), emissions from agricultural sources are—


(a) emissions from enteric fermentation and other emissions from livestock,


(b) emissions from agricultural soils,


(c) emissions from agricultural wastes and manure management, and


(d) emissions from agricultural machinery (whether stationary or mobile)


(3) The Department may by regulations make further provision regarding the exclusion of greenhouse gases from agricultural sources under subsection (1), and in particular may—


(a) add to the list in subsection (2) emissions from other sources, or remove emissions from that list;


(b) specify (as exceptions to subsection (1)) circumstances in which, and the extent to which, emissions of a greenhouse gas from agricultural sources are to count as Northern Ireland emissions of that gas.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Question put, That the amendment be made. The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 38; Noes 49

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Harvey

NOES

Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Gildernew, Ms Sheerin

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 10 (Crediting and debiting of carbon units)

Amendment No 18 made:

In page 5, line 1, leave out subsection (3) and insert—



“(3) The regulations must set a limit on the net amount of carbon units by which the net Northern Ireland emissions account for a period may be reduced as a result of applying provision made under subsection (1)(a) and (b); and that limit must not be greater than 25% of the aggregate amount of net Northern Ireland emissions of each greenhouse gas for that period (as determined in accordance with sections 8 and 9).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Thank you, Members. I will not call amendment No 19.

Before we move on to the group 2 amendments, I will give people a moment to settle.

Clause 12 (Sectoral plans)

We now come to the second group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 20, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 21 to 70. In this group, amendment No 24 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 23; amendment No 44 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 43; amendment Nos 48 and 49 are mutually exclusive to amendment No 47; and amendment Nos 67 and 68 are mutually exclusive to amendment No 66.

I call Philip McGuigan to move amendment No 20 and address the other amendments in the group.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin

I beg to move amendment No 20:

In page 6, line 14, at end insert—

<BR/>

“(2) In developing sectoral plans, the Northern Ireland departments must commission a financial, social, economic and rural impact assessment on the effects of the proposed plans.”

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 21: In clause 18, page 7, line 25, at end insert—



“(4) When developing Sectoral Plans for agriculture the Department must ensure that targets for biogenic methane reductions make a fair and proportionate contribution to achieving long-term temperature goals as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 22: In clause 22, page 8, line 13, at end insert—



“(b) commission a financial, social, economic and rural impact assessment on the effects of the carbon budget for that period, and”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 23: In clause 22, page 8, line 14, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—



“(c) also consult with the Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner, the other Departments and the Just Transition Commission and lay the proposals with the Assembly.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 24: In clause 22, page 8, line 15, leave out from second “and” to “Assembly” on line 16. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 25: In clause 22, page 8, line 17, leave out subsection (3). — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 26: In clause 22, page 8, line 22, leave out paragraph (a). — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 27: In clause 25, page 9, line 11, leave out “In this Act, when setting targets” and insert—



“In setting a carbon budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 28: In clause 25, page 9, line 19, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 29: In clause 25, page 9, line 24, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 30: In clause 25, page 9, line 26, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 31: In clause 25, page 9, line 28, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 32: In clause 25, page 9, line 29, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 33: In clause 25, page 9, line 31, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 34: In clause 25, page 9, line 35, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 35: In clause 25, page 9, line 36, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 36: In clause 25, page 10, line 1, leave out subsection (2) and insert—



“(2) ‘Carbon leakage’ means the transfer of the production of goods (including agricultural goods) and the provision of services to countries without comparable climate change policies.


(3) In subsection (2), ‘comparable climate change policies’ are policies that are intended to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for the country in question which are equivalent to the targets set out in sections 1, 3 and 4, by the years set out in those sections.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 37: In clause 28, page 11, line 8, at end insert—



“(2) References in this Act to a ‘climate action plan’ are to a report under this section.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 38: In clause 28, page 11, line 23, leave out “12” and insert “16”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 39: In clause 28, page 11, line 23, leave out “period” and insert “day”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 40: In clause 29, page 11, line 32, after “Ireland” insert—



“, recognising that the island of Ireland is a single biogeographic unit,”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 41: In clause 29, page 11, line 36, at end insert—



“(c) commission a financial, social, economic and rural impact assessment on the effects of the proposals and policies.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 42: In clause 29, page 11, line 36, at end insert—



“(d) give due regard to the special economic and social role of agriculture, including with regard to the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 43: In clause 29, page 12, line 37, leave out subsection (5). — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 44: In clause 29, page 12, line 38, leave out from “advice” to end of line 40 and insert—



“to support farmers in making changes to reach the target set out in section 1 and to adapt and mitigate climate change and support research, innovation and knowledge transfer.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 45: In clause 29, page 13, line 4, leave out “report under section 28” and insert “climate action plan”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 46: In clause 29, page 13, line 5, leave out “report” and insert “plan”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 47: In clause 29, page 13, line 6, leave out subsections (9) and (10). — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 48: In clause 29, page 13, line 6, leave out “report under section 28” and insert “climate action plan”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 49: In clause 29, page 13, line 7, leave out “report” and insert “plan”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 50: In clause 29, page 13, line 10, leave out “or (10)”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 51: In clause 29, page 13, line 11, leave out subsection (12). — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 52: In clause 29, page 13, line 14, at end insert—



“(13) Each report under Section 28 must explain how the Department intends to mitigate against any negative effects uncovered in the relevant financial, social, economic and rural impact assessment.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 53: Leave out clause 30 and insert—



Just Transition Fund for Agriculture


30.—(1) The Department must by regulations establish a scheme for the administration of a fund to be known as the ‘Just Transition Fund for Agriculture’ for the purpose of providing advice and financial assistance to the agriculture sector to deliver its contribution under proposals and policies for the purposes of section 28.


(2) The regulations may make provision—


(a) for determining eligibility or entitlement for advice or assistance under the scheme;


(b) regarding applications (if any) for advice or assistance under the scheme;


(c) imposing conditions or restrictions in connection with the scheme;


(d) requiring persons to provide specified information, or imposing other obligations on them, in connection with the scheme;


(e) conferring functions on the Department or other public bodies in connection with the scheme;


(f) about steps to be taken to bring the scheme to the attention of persons likely to be eligible for assistance under it;


(g) about the enforcement of obligations imposed by or by virtue of the regulations (which may include a power for the Department impose financial penalties);


(h) about the general administration of the scheme, including provision for the review of decisions taken under the scheme and for dealing with disputes as to eligibility or entitlement under the scheme;


(i) about any other matter which appears to the Department to be necessary or appropriate for the efficient and effective administration of the scheme.


(3) If the scheme provides for financial assistance, the regulations may make provision—


(a) for the assistance to be given in any form, including, in particular, by way of a grant, loan or guarantee;


(b) for determining the extent of assistance (including for the calculation of payments that are to be made);


(c) for the assistance to be provided subject to such conditions as may be specified in, or determined in accordance with, the scheme;


(d) for those conditions to include (in the case of a grant) conditions for repayment in specified circumstances;


(e) for assistance to be provided—


(i) directly to those entitled to receive it under the scheme; or


(ii) indirectly (for example by being made to a public body on terms which require that body to provide financial assistance to those so entitled).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 54: In clause 31, page 13, line 21, leave out “Policies and proposals under section 28 shall” and insert “Climate action plans must”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 55: In clause 31, page 13, line 34, at end insert—



“(3) Climate action plans must also include annual targets on—


(a) greenhouse gas emissions, and


(b) air quality.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 56: In clause 32, page 14, line 14, leave out “in relation to the exercise of its functions” and insert—



“regarding matters in relation to which it has functions”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 57: In clause 32, page 14, line 16, at end insert—



“(2) Each climate action plan must include sectoral plans in accordance with subsections (3) and (4) (‘sectoral plans’).


(3) Each Northern Ireland department mentioned in column 1 of the following table must develop a


plan for the sector mentioned in the corresponding entry in column 2; and that plan must include, in particular, policies and proposals relating to the matters (if any) mentioned in the corresponding entry in column 3.


 












































Department



Sector



Matters



Department for the Economy



Energy



Energy production; the supply of private and public heating and cooling systems



Department for the Economy



Industrial processes



 



Department for Infrastructure



Infrastructure



Planning and construction



Department for Infrastructure



Transport



Public and private transport



Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs



Waste management



 



Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs



Agriculture



Carbon audits for farms, including carbon sequestration measures



Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs



Fisheries



Sea fisheries and the inland fisheries industry



 


(4) In addition to the matters specified in the table in subsection (3)—


(a) the sectoral plan for energy must include proposals and policies to ensure that 80% of electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2030;


(b) the sectoral plan for transport must include proposals and policies to ensure that 10% of transport budgets is spent on the promotion of walking, cycling and other forms of active transport;


(c) the sectoral plan for waste management must include proposals and policies to ensure that 70% of waste is recycled by 2030.


(5) The Department may—


(a) by regulations amend the table in subsection (3) (including by adding new entries relating to the departments mentioned or other departments);


(b) make regulations setting out criteria to be used for the purpose of determining whether the targets set out in subsection (4) have been met.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 58: As an amendment to amendment No 57, leave out “climate action plan” and insert “report under section 28”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 59: Leave out clause 34 and insert—



Proposals and policies: workforce, employers and communities


34.—(1) Each climate action plan must—


(a) explain how the proposals and policies set out in the plan are expected to affect the workforce, employers and communities; and


(b) include proposals and policies for supporting the workforce, employers and communities.


(2) The explanation, proposals and policies included under subsection (1) must make particular reference to small businesses.


(3) In subsection (2), a ‘small business’ is a business that employs fewer than 50 persons.


(4) The Department may by regulations amend subsection (3); and such regulations may define a small business by reference to such matters (or combination of matters) as the Department considers appropriate (including, in particular, the number of its employees, its turnover and its balance sheet).” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 60: As an amendment to amendment No 59, in subsection (1), leave out “climate action plan” and insert “report under section 28”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 61: As an amendment to amendment No 59, in subsection (1)(a), leave out “plan” and insert “report”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 62: Leave out clause 35 and insert—



Proposals and policies: carbon leakage


35.—(1) In deciding its proposals and policies for the purposes of section 28, each Northern Ireland department must take into account—


(a) the risk of that implementation of those proposals and policies will result in carbon leakage, and


(b) the desirability of eliminating or minimising that risk.


(2) ‘Carbon leakage’ means the transfer of the production of goods (including agricultural goods) and the provision of services to countries without comparable climate change policies.


(3) In subsection (2), ‘comparable climate change policies’ are policies that are intended to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for the country in question which are equivalent to the targets set out in sections 1, 3 and 4, by the years set out in those sections.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 63: Leave out clause 36 and insert—



Just Transition Commission


36.—(1) The Department must by regulations establish a body to be known as the ‘Just Transition Commission’.


(2) The functions of the Commission are to—


(a) oversee the implementation of the just transition elements of this Act, and


(b) provide advice to the Northern Ireland departments on how to ensure that proposals, policies, strategies and plans required under this Act comply with the just transition principle.


(3) Regulations under subsection (1)—


(a) must make provision for the constitution of the Commission (including, in particular, its membership, general powers and proceedings);


(b) may provide that the Commission is established as a body corporate (and that section 19 of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 applies to it with such modifications (if any) as may be prescribed in the regulations);


(c) may make provision for the payment of remuneration and allowances to members of the Commission, and for the defraying of its expenses;


(d) may make provision in relation to accounting, reporting and record-keeping by the Commission;


(e) may make such further provision in relation to the Commission as the Department considers appropriate.


(4) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (3)(a) must provide for the members of the Commission to include a representative of each of the following—


(a) the agricultural sector;


(b) the fisheries sector;


(c) academia;


(d) trade unions;


(e) youth groups;


(f) civic society;


(g) environmental groups.


(But this does not prevent the regulations from providing for other persons to be members of the Commission.)


(5) Regulations under subsection (1) may also make provision about the functions of the Commission, including provision specifying—


(a) how the oversight function is to be performed;


(b) what the just transition elements of this Act are.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 64: In clause 37, page 15, line 12, leave out “report” and insert “climate action plan”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 65: In clause 38, page 16, line 11, leave out “report” and insert “climate action plan”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 66: Leave out clause 49 and insert—



Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner


49.—(1) The Executive Office must by regulations establish an independent office known as the ‘Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner’.


(2) The functions of the Commissioner are to oversee and report on the operations of this Act.


(3) Regulations under subsection (1)—


(a) must make provision for the appointment of the Commissioner;


(b) may provide that the Commissioner is to be a corporation sole;


(c) may make provision about the general powers of the Commissioner;


(d) may make provision for the payment of remuneration and allowances to the Commissioner, and for the defraying of the Commissioner’s expenses;


(e) make provision in relation to accounting, reporting and record-keeping by the Commissioner;


(f) may make provision for the appointment of officers and staff by the Commissioner;


(g) may make provision about the acquisition and disposal by the Commissioner of property, rights and liabilities (including land);


(h) make such further provision in relation to the Commissioner as the Executive Office considers appropriate.


(4) Regulations under subsection (1) may also make provision about the functions of the


Commissioner, including provision specifying how the oversight and reporting functions are to be performed.


(5) The first regulations under subsection (1) must be laid in draft before the Assembly within the period of 2 years beginning with the day on which this Act receives Royal Assent.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

No 67: In clause 49, page 21, line 8, at end insert—



“(2) The functions of the Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner are to—


(a) oversee the implementation of this Act,


(b) report on the targets in section 1 and any interim targets every 5 years,


(c) provide advice to departments in meeting their obligations under this Act.


(3) The appointment of the Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner will be subject to the Code of Practice for Ministerial Public Appointments in Northern Ireland.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 68: After clause 49 insert—



Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner: Staff


49A. The Climate Commissioner may—


(a) appoint staff,


(b) determine the terms and conditions of their employment, and


(c) make arrangements in respect of salary and pensions for them.” — [Mr Blair.]

No 69: In clause 50, page 21, line 11, leave out “3 years” and insert “24 months”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

No 70: In clause 50, page 21, line 13, after “must” insert—



“commission a financial, social, economic and rural impact assessment on the effects of the draft climate action plan and”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin

As we have discussed, setting targets is a vital part of the Bill, but how we achieve them is equally important. The group 2 amendments are on the sectoral and climate action plans, just transition, the just transition commission and the climate commissioner. Those are all important aspects, most of which were added at Consideration Stage. Most of the amendments in group 2 are technical amendments that tidy up or add aspects to the previous amendments. They are important, though. We must ensure that the transition to net zero is a just one. It is not enough for us to say that no community or sector will be left behind. That must become a reality. We want them to embrace the changes and, furthermore, to guide us in how we can achieve them in a fair and sustainable manner. We want an ambitious, fair and sustainable climate change Bill, and we believe that our amendments in group 2 will help us to achieve that.

To that end, we propose amendment Nos 20, 22 and 52, which will ensure that the various aspects of the Bill are fair, proportionate and subject to financial, social, economic and rural impact assessments. Amendment No 21 is similar to amendment No 2, which was in the earlier group, re the need to take account of biogenic methane when developing the agriculture sectoral plan.

The Department’s amendment Nos 27 to 35 are technical. They change the word &quot;target&quot; to &quot;budget&quot;. Obviously, we will support those as well. We must be mindful that, in seeking to make a positive contribution to climate change locally, we do not inadvertently make a negative one globally, which is why we will also support the Minister’s amendment Nos 36 and 62, which tidy up the definition of &quot;carbon leakage&quot; that was added at Consideration Stage.

In making climate change legislation, we must be mindful at all times that we live on an island with a shared environment and deeply interconnected economy. We have proposed and will support our amendment No 40, which recognises:

"that the island of Ireland is a single biogeographic unit".

That is very important when tackling climate legislation.

All sectors will have to contribute to the fight against climate change, but, as we discussed during the debate on the group 1 amendments, we recognise the vital role that agriculture in particular plays here, economically and socially. We also recognise that, due to its nature, it will face specific changes, which is why, at Consideration Stage, we proposed and supported an amendment that introduced a just transition fund for agriculture. We will support amendment No 53 from the Department, which expands on the detail of that and tidies it up.

At Consideration Stage, we also proposed a just transition commission, which, in our view, is key to the success of the Bill's outworkings to ensure that it is done in a fair way. We will support amendment No 63, which, again, expands on and gives more detail on the just transition commission.

Independent oversight and advice are crucial to ensuring that we protect our environment as best we can while ensuring that the burden for doing so does not fall disproportionately on those who are least able to afford it. Independent oversight is vital in ensuring that we reach our targets in as fair and sustainable a manner as possible while protecting industries, incomes and livelihoods. Amendment Nos 66, 67 and 68 all relate to the climate commissioner, who will provide our independent advice on the path to net zero.

I flew through the important aspects. There is a raft of amendments, but most are technical, and we support them.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 8:45 pm, 28th February 2022

It is good to be here and to be dealing with the second group of amendments after having a productive debate on the first group. As we move on to deal with the issues, I hope that we will arrive at some form of reconciliation and accommodation on these matters.

As I stated during the debate on the first group of amendments, it is really time that we got our act together and legislated for the climate emergency. We support setting ambitious targets, but we must ensure that there is a just transition. As Members will know, the Committee received numerous representations about a just transition and the shape or form that it may take. We have to understand that we are grappling with the issues, and, therefore, we must engage with all sectors, Departments and external bodies to make sure that the just transition is, indeed, just with regard to the many social, economic, educational, skills and cross-departmental factors. As we move from one way of life and one way of doing things, with one set of skills, and from how operations are dealt with in business and schools, as well as in general and culturally, we have to make sure that every bit of support will be there to facilitate that change and to ensure that it is done in a way that does not disadvantage any sector in any meaningful or substantial way. That support will have to be applied to plans, policies, services and budgets of Departments and the Executive on a whole-government basis, including the arm's-length bodies that form part of government here. That will recognise that a just transition to a low-carbon economy involves a series of societal inputs and impacts.

There must be coordination with policies and practices in England, Scotland and Wales and with those across the rest of this island. After some work recently with the Chairman, the Committee hopes to engage with Teagasc, Queen's University and AFBI so that they can come to the Committee and start to initiate the process. I am sure that they are well ahead of the pack, but we, as elected representatives — I would be the first to admit this — need to learn more about the direction that we are pointed in and the measures, be they scientific or otherwise, that need to be taken to put us on the road to a just transition. The constructive engagement that is required will involve Ministers working through the existing bodies of the North/South Ministerial Council, the British-Irish Council and others.

The role of the climate commissioner is equally important, as the AERA Committee recognised. The climate adviser should advise on making policy and taking action across government and public bodies that will go towards meeting the challenges of the climate emergency. Those policies and actions should reflect international obligations, targets and good practice standards. Passing legislation is only the first step; we have a long way to go. Difficult decisions have to be taken, but we are on our way to meeting our obligations.

I will be brief, as Mr McGuigan was. I call on the Minister to shed some light on amendment No 36, which is about carbon leakage. It refers to:

"the transfer of the production of goods ... and the provision of services to countries without comparable climate change policies."

Will the Minister clarify that, please? Does "comparable" mean lesser policies? If those countries do not have comparable policies, they could have better policies and practices.

Secondly, we always look at the unintended consequences. Does that amendment, in fact, have the potential to realise a non-tariff barrier to trade? Are there powers to block that? In other words, does the Assembly have legitimate powers to do what may be the outcome of the amendment? I want to get a wee bit of clarity on that. It may well be that it is one of the advantages of remaining in the single market; that remains to be seen. I would appreciate some clarity from the Minister on those points, please, before we move to the vote.

Those are the main issues that I wanted to raise. I would like the Minister to explain how he envisages, in his proposal in amendment No 66, that the chain of accountability would go back to the Assembly through the Executive Office. Amendment Nos 67 and 68 clearly identify the climate commissioner; those issues are covered there. Will the Minister and, indeed, the Members who tabled the other amendments explain the chain of accountability back to the Assembly, please?

I will conclude there, Mr Speaker. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from the Minister and the proposers of the other amendments.

Photo of Rosemary Barton Rosemary Barton UUP

Having spoken generally on the group 1 amendments, I will go straight to giving our thoughts on the amendments in group 2 and explaining whether we will or will not support them.

Amendment No 20, which we will support, adds further to the development of the sectoral plans, including the commissioning of social, economic and rural impact assessments. We had thought that amendment No 21 may not be required — if amendment No 17 were made — however things have changed since then. We can support the inclusion of fair and proportionate targets for biomethane reduction in accordance with the 2015 Paris agreement, as outlined in amendment No 21. We will support amendment Nos 22 and 23. Amendment Nos 24 to 35 are mainly tidying-up requirements for the carbon budget sectoral plans and the climate change action plans, so we will support those.

Amendment No 36 makes a considerable improvement to clause 25, as at Consideration Stage, so we will, hopefully, support that. There is more tidying up in amendment Nos 37 to 39, which we will support. We will oppose amendment No 40 as there is no requirement for that insertion. Amendment No 41, tabled by Sinn Féin, ensures impact assessments on the effects of proposals and policies.

Amendment No 42 recognises the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane with regard to the special economic and social roles of agriculture. We will support amendment Nos 43 and 53, which put the just transition fund into the regulations. Recognition of the need to support farmers is stated clearly in amendment No 44, which we will support.

We will support amendment Nos 54, 55 and 56, as they are tidying-up amendments. While amendment Nos 57 and 58 involve a lot of extra regulations, we realise the necessity for them. We will support amendment No 62, which clarifies the role of the Departments. We will also support amendment Nos 64, 65 and 66. Again, those are tidying-up amendments that reword clauses.

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance

As I stated in my contribution to the debate on the group 1 amendments, Northern Ireland is lagging way behind in tackling the climate crisis. Today's IPCC findings are a powerful and timely reminder that meaningful climate change legislation is needed, and needed urgently. To quote the IPCC, we have:

"a brief and rapidly closing window" to adapt to climate change, with the risk associated with lower levels of warming greater than previously thought.

In response to the IPCC report, the UN Secretary-General said that the findings were:

"an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership."

The report highlights how political failure to tackle the climate crisis negatively impacts, even in the immediate term, on all of us right here in Northern Ireland. Our recognition of and response to climate risk can strengthen adaptation and mitigation actions and transitions that reduce those risks. Action is enabled by governance, finance and knowledge but also by capacity building. Many adaptation options already exist and are used to help manage projected climate change impacts, but their implementation depends on the capacity and effectiveness of governance and decision-making processes.

Independent climate bodies to oversee climate change mitigation and adaptation measures are widely considered to be a major component of any leading climate action framework. I therefore support the amendments tabled to establish and implement an independent, Northern Ireland-specific oversight commissioner through the legislation.

I will speak to amendment No 57, which is based on amendments that my party originally put forward, and to amendment No 68, which my party tabled to ensure resource capacity for the Northern Ireland climate commissioner. It is so important that our oversight body have the resources to conduct the role effectively. Separate from the Northern Ireland climate commissioner, however, there remains an outstanding need for an independent environmental protection agency in Northern Ireland. I have spoken on a number of occasions about the commitment made in New Decade, New Approach.

I turn to amendment Nos 21 and 42, which Sinn Féin tabled. As I stated, I have deep concern about giving methane special regard over the other greenhouse gases, and Alliance will oppose the amendments.

Finally, I support the amendments that introduce the specification for financial, economic, social and rural impact assessments. Not only is that good practice but it ensures that the greening of the economy is inclusive, with pathways into green careers to ensure that women and low-income families can fully participate in the new green economy.

Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin

Earlier today, I referred to the IPCC's latest report, which adds weight to the evidence, if that were needed, on why we require climate action now. The legislation that we are debating sets us on a clear path to net zero by 2050, as required under the Paris agreement, in order to try to limit warming to 1·5°C by the end of the century.

Sinn Féin's position on climate action is that it must be based on the principles of social justice. We need to have a fair and just transition. The amendments that we and others made to the Bill at Consideration Stage and the amendments tabled at Further Consideration Stage aim to ensure that the principles of a just transition underpin the legislation and the plans that are brought forward under it.

We have aimed to ensure that an approach of collaboration and consultation is incorporated into the development of all the plans that will flow from the Bill. As Philip McGuigan outlined, the amendments in the group that stand in my name and those of my colleagues further incorporate that approach into the Bill, through the development of sectoral plans and of the proposals and policies on carbon budgets. The approach will require impact assessments to be conducted and for the special economic and social role of agriculture and the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane to be taken into account.

Philip detailed the amendments that we tabled. Amendment No 40 would recognise the island of Ireland as a single biogeographic unit. Amendment No 44 would add further detail to the purpose of the just transition fund. Amendment No 52 would require the Department to set out how it intends to mitigate the negative impacts highlighted in the impact assessments under clause 28 on proposals and policies relating to carbon budgets. Amendment No 67 would set out further details on the climate commissioner. Amendment No 69 would require climate action plans to be brought forward within 24 months of the Bill's receiving Royal Assent.

The rest of the amendments are largely technical and continue the approach followed at Consideration Stage. The Minister's amendments are also largely technical, and, again, Philip has outlined our approach to them.

Our amendments further reinforce the approach to the Bill taken by the Assembly at Consideration Stage.

They will ensure that the climate legislation is based on partnership and collaboration. We have included the just transition commission to ensure that communities and sectors can buy into and be part of the planning for transition. Climate action has to be transparent, accessible and understood by communities, which is why we have included the climate commissioner. The legislation sets us on a positive path towards achieving net zero by 2050.

In the debates and discourse on the climate Bills, we have often talked about the concerns of sectors and the challenges that will be faced in meeting the targets that are being set. It is also important to highlight the opportunities and benefits. The obvious opportunity and benefit is the protection of our planet for future generations, and there is the benefit of a better environment. Also, there are the economic and social benefits. It is important that we as an Assembly and a society plan to harness the opportunities. We have a potential abundance of green energy that could help to create new jobs and skills opportunities as well, obviously, as securing our energy supply. We have talked a great deal about our food production during the debates. Our excellence in that area is globally renowned and contributes greatly to our food security.

Climate legislation might, in some respects, seem high-level, and perhaps it is not the first thing in the minds of those whom we represent every day. However, it is highly relevant. To those who are concerned about heating their homes and putting food on their tables and to the workers, families and businesses who are worried about spiralling costs the legislation is relevant and important. It can help enshrine a new approach based on social, economic and environmental well-being to create a more prosperous and more equal society. We need to talk more about that.

Photo of Cara Hunter Cara Hunter Social Democratic and Labour Party 9:00 pm, 28th February 2022

I welcome the contributions that have been made from across the Assembly. Tonight, Northern Ireland is one step closer to having its own climate change legislation. The SDLP has been vocal and supportive on that throughout the years, recognising the need for appropriate legislation to tackle the climate crisis.

From farming to food processing and distribution, we in the SDLP understand and recognise the strain that farmers and businesses in that sector face. I have spoken with several farmers and food chain suppliers in my constituency of East Derry and listened to their concerns. One thing that we all very much agree on is that climate change is real and concerning. I spoke with farmers in Claudy, Park, Feeny and beyond, and I was deeply impressed by their willingness to engage, which was mentioned by Members earlier, their willingness to be part of the solution and part of the change and their willingness to diversify. They had a lot of questions about what the future will mean for them, which is why the discussion on the just transition is so vital.

The SDLP supports amendment No 53, which highlights the importance of a just transition fund to support our farmers in a positive, proportionate and appropriate manner and assist with a smooth transition. Many farmers mentioned concerns about the unknown future and the uncertainty around funding streams. That is why the fund is so important. The debate should never be about the environment versus a sector; it should be about what we can all do to ensure that the correct funds, support, committees and commissioner are there to support our farmers. It is important that the legislation is shaped to do that and support the agri-food sector, as highlighted in amendment Nos 63, 66 and 68.

We also support amendment No 20, as it will help to alleviate the concerns of our rural citizens by making sure that our Departments commission a financial, social, economic and rural impact assessment on any developing sector plans. We welcome that as it takes into consideration the impact on rural communities in the key plans that are being made.

I have mentioned just a few of the many amendments that we support. I welcome the amendments, as they give our agri-food sector the breathing space that it needs to create a sustainable path to a better future.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

As I highlighted during the debate on the group 1 amendments, I have tabled technical amendments to remove duplication and to link more effectively the elements added to the Bill at Consideration Stage to the framework of the Bill as introduced. The majority of those amendments are in this group.

As with some of the amendments in group 1, my officials engaged with the proposers of the amendments upon which the fixes are being attempted to explain the rationale behind the further amendments and make it clear that they will not change the will or amend the policy ambitions agreed at Consideration Stage. Rather, these amendments will make the Bill more workable and improve the operability for a multi-decadal piece of legislation. Some of the Members in question seem willing to accept the rationale behind some of the proposed amendments, and I hope that all Members want the legislation to be at least technically operable and that they will be supportive of the intent behind these technical amendments, which are necessary to make the Bill a more coherent and effective piece of legislation.

In the time available, given the number of amendments that were agreed at Consideration Stage, it has not been possible to fix or address all the drafting issues in the Bill as a result of those amendments having been made. We have to try to address some of the more obvious issues, which include provisions that duplicate things that were already in the Bill, provisions that are not correctly linked to the framework created by the Bill and provisions that require Departments to establish bodies or funds without providing any legal powers for them to do so, as well as a number of other defective provisions.

The first amendment in this group is amendment No 20. That was tabled by Mr McGuigan and his colleagues, who also tabled amendment Nos 22, 41 and 70, which create similar requirements around the commissioning of various impact assessments in respect of plans and reports to be produced under the Bill. I want to make it clear that I am very much in favour of such assessments being carried out, but requirements to assess the impacts of policies and plans are already covered in greater detail and with more clarity in other legislation and strategies. The Northern Ireland better regulations strategy places a requirement on Departments to complete a regulatory impact assessment, known as an RIA, when developing new policies, proposals, significant plans, new legislation etc. The RIA includes an assessment of the impact of the policy options on financial cost, economic benefits and social impacts and on the risks of a proposal. The RIA process will identify viable policy options, assess the effects and value the costs and benefits of each option and carry out an economic assessment of the best option.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr Beggs] in the Chair)

Under the Rural Needs Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, Northern Ireland Departments also have a legal duty to have, "due regard to rural needs". Indeed, the Rural Needs Act requires Departments to complete a rural needs impact assessment in respect of significant policies and plans produced under this Bill. Those assessments will assess the impacts on the rural community.

In addition, under section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, all Departments have a duty to:

"have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity" and to assess equality impacts when carrying out their functions.

Given the importance of the plans that will be produced under the Bill, they will require Executive approval, and all necessary assessments of impacts will have to be undertaken. Furthermore, through amendment No 59, which I proposed and which creates a new clause to replace clause 34, the Bill already requires the impacts of policies and proposals on the workforce, employers and communities to be assessed and proposals and policies to be included to support the workforce, employers and communities. Amendment Nos 20, 22, 41 and 70 are therefore not necessary.

Amendment No 21 links to amendment No 2 in group 1, and, as that amendment was not agreed, I will not support amendment No 21.

I turn to amendment Nos 22 to 26, all of which relate to clause 22. Subsections 2 to 4 of clause 22 are defective in a number of respects. Amendment Nos 24 and 25 address issues with subsections 2 and 3 of clause 22. Subsection 2 currently requires carbon budgets to be laid "with" the Assembly, when it should be "before" the Assembly. Subsection 3 also requires carbon budgets to be approved by draft affirmative resolution, but, because carbon budgets are required to be made by regulations, the requirements are already imposed by clause 52(3) of the Bill, which requires such regulations to be laid before the Assembly and approved by draft affirmative resolution.

Amendment No 26 addresses duplication contained in clause 22(4)(a), which requires the Department to have regard to the advice of the UK Climate Change Committee. That requirement is already imposed by clause 55, which requires the advice of the Climate Change Committee to be sought before any regulations under the Bill are made, so it is not necessary to restate the requirement in respect of the regulations that can be made under clause 22. As I highlighted during the Consideration Stage debate, it is poor drafting practice to repeat the same provision in different parts of the same Bill, since that achieves nothing in law and just creates confusion. I have therefore tabled amendment Nos 24 to 26 to remove those defective provisions. Amendment No 23, tabled by Mr McGuigan and colleagues, also attempts to make a minor amendment to clause 22, but again it is unnecessary. The right amendments to support with regard to that clause are amendment Nos 24 to 26.

As I highlighted during the Consideration Stage debate, clause 25, which was added at that stage, is defective, because, although the heading refers to "budgets", and it appears in a run of clauses that deal with carbon budgets, it refers throughout to "targets". In the Bill, targets are set by clauses 1, 3 and 4. Clause 25 also purports to impose a duty on my Department "when setting targets", but my Department does not set them, except if it amends them under clause 5. It appears that every reference to "targets" in clause 25 is intended to be a reference to "budgets". I have therefore tabled amendment Nos 27 to 35 to update the relevant references in the clause to "budgets".

Clause 25 also contains a definition of "carbon leakage", but I have tabled a separate amendment to replace the definition of carbon leakage in clause 35. It makes sense to have a consistent definition throughout the Bill. There is no reason why there should be different definitions for essentially the same concept. The definition in clause 25 is also defective in that refers only to "production", and the phrase "less restrictive policies" is not adequately explained. I have therefore tabled amendment No 36 to address that and insert a more coherent definition of carbon leakage.

Clause 50, which was added at Consideration Stage, essentially duplicates the substance of clause 28. Clause 50 requires the publication and laying of climate action plans that set out how interim targets and the 2050 target will be achieved. That is, in substance, identical to the requirement in clause 28, which covers reports setting out proposals and policies for meeting the carbon budget that are themselves five-yearly and are required to be set by reference to the targets. The problem is that, although the requirements are substantively the same as those of clause 28, the two provisions require different things in law. If the Bill were to pass as it stands, it would contain duties on my Department to publish both types of documents, saying the same things, and would increase bureaucracy, unnecessary administrative burdens and additional cost, with no practical benefit. Many Members would agree with me that there is already too much duplication across different plans and strategies, and therefore it does not help in delivering the right messages to stakeholders and the public.

I recognised that the will of the House was to have a climate action plan. Therefore, I have tabled amendment Nos 37, 38, 45, 46, 48, 49, 54, 55, 60, 61, 64 and 65 to combine all the substantive requirements of clause 50 into clauses 28 and 31, and to adopt the label "Climate action plans" for the reports under clause 28. That includes the relevant consultation requirements and the requirements around annual greenhouse gas and air quality targets. I am sure that you will agree that having one clear, robust and overarching five-year climate action plan to deliver and meet carbon budgets and targets is the right way to proceed. Amendment No 39 replaces the word "period" in clause 28(7) with the word "day", as the use of the word "period" in that context does not make any sense.

Amendment No 40 is a pointless amendment. While I appreciate why Mr McGuigan and his colleagues have put it forward, it achieves nothing in the context of the provision in which it would be inserted. That requires coordination of policies and proposals, where desirable, with Ireland, the UK and elsewhere. The proposed text will have no impact on that. It is simply window dressing.

Amendment No 42, also tabled by Mr McGuigan and his colleagues, attempts to place a new consideration to be taken into account when producing the reports under clause 28. However, again, that is not necessary as it is effectively provided for under clause 25(1)(n) regarding carbon budgets. Proposals and policies under clause 28 must be set in order to achieve those carbon budgets, so the need to have due regard to:

"the special economic and social role of agriculture, including with regard to the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane," under clause 25 carries through into clause 29.

I turn to amendment No 43. Clauses 29(5) and 30, which were inserted by amendments at Consideration Stage, contain exactly the same text about the establishment of a just transition fund for agriculture. Both are defective in a number of ways, in addition to the fact that they duplicate each other. They state that the Department must establish a scheme but give no indication of the mechanism for doing so. Presumably, it is to be done by regulations, which would be subject to draft affirmative procedure. There is confusion in the provisions between the words "scheme" and "fund". Those are different things. A scheme must be established to administer the fund in order to make it work.

A power to make regulations of that kind generally includes explicit provision about what the regulations may do, in order to ensure that there is no doubt about what the scheme can do. Without the provisions, the scheme would be vulnerable to legal challenge. I have, therefore, tabled amendment Nos 43 and 53, which remove the duplication and place a requirement on my Department to bring forward regulations to establish a scheme for the administration of such a fund and outline the types of elements that the regulations should cover. Amendment No 53 provides the necessary powers to give legal effect to such a scheme.

Given the amendments that I have tabled, amendment No 44, which was proposed by Mr McGuigan and colleagues, is unnecessary, as the proposed text does not add anything of substance that cannot be covered through regulations, which my Department will bring forward under the power provided by amendment No 53.

Clause 34, which was inserted at Consideration Stage and purports to cover impacts on small businesses, is technically defective in a number of respects. It states that policies and proposals must "explain" and "set out", whereas it is the report under section 28 that will explain and set out matters. As paragraphs (a) and (b) are expressed as being:

"not limited to small and micro businesses", the clause does not contain any special provision about small businesses and its title is, therefore, inaccurate. Although the clause refers to small and microbusinesses, it does not distinguish between them, defining them both as being businesses "with less than 50 employees". Moreover, clause 29(9) already makes provision about small businesses, so, again, there is duplication.

I have tabled amendment Nos 47, 50, 51 and 59 to correct the errors in clause 34 and to combine the provisions of clause 29(9) to (12), which also cover the impacts on small businesses, to make coherent special provision about small businesses. I urge Members to support the amendments to remove the duplication and to provide clarity on the assessments that are required.

Amendment No 52 requires my Department to explain how it will mitigate any impacts uncovered through relevant financial, social, economic and rural impact assessments and links to the amendments that I referred to earlier in that regard. The element of identifying mitigation actions to address potential impacts is already required when carrying out the numerous assessments that I alluded to earlier. The amendment is unnecessary, albeit that the intent behind it is fine.

Amendment No 56 makes a minor update to the wording in clause 32, so that the reference to the SEM committee and its role in providing advice on energy production and supply is focused on the functions relevant to the Bill rather than having it provide advice on all its functions, which the current wording would require.

I will not move amendment Nos 57 and 58 as they were dependent on other amendments that did not make it on to the Marshalled List.

As I mentioned earlier when I talked about clause 25, there are two clauses that, following amendments at Consideration Stage, define carbon leakage, with clause 35 being the second of those. However, clause 35 is technically defective in a number of ways. The clause imposes a duty that applies when setting out policies and proposals, whereas, in order to be effective, the duty must apply to the earlier stage of deciding those policies and proposals. The clause refers to "the department" — meaning DAERA — whereas the policies and proposals are decided by each Northern Ireland Department in its own area. It does not make sense to limit the Department's duty to "substantial or unreasonable" leakage because those words are ill-defined. The Department would have to consider all possible leakages in order to decide what it can ignore because it is not substantial or unreasonable.

The clause refers to policies in other countries being addressed against the targets in sections 1, 3 and 4. However, the targets in sections 1, 3 and 4 are for the reduction of Northern Ireland's emissions. Again, it does not make sense to talk about those targets in the context of other countries. The clause refers to countries with policies but ignores the possibility that some countries may have no policies at all. Therefore, I have tabled amendment No 62, which will replace the existing text in clause 35, correct those errors and improve the requirements for carbon leakage in the Bill.

Clause 36 requires the establishment of a just transition commission, but it gives no indication of the mechanism for doing so. Presumably, the intention is that it will be done by regulations subject to the draft affirmative procedure. Moreover, the clause makes no provision for standard ancillary rules for public bodies such as for its constitution, the remuneration of members or record-keeping. It is not clear from the provision what oversight consists of or what the just transition elements of the Act will be. For those reasons, I have tabled amendment No 63, which will replace clause 36 and provide a more effective framework from which to establish such a commission. I trust that there will be universal support for the amendment.

Similarly, clause 49, which was inserted at Consideration Stage, requires the establishment of a Northern Ireland climate commissioner, but it gives no indication of the mechanism for doing so. Again, presumably, the intention is that it will be done by regulations subject to the draft affirmative procedure. Moreover, clause 49 makes no provision for standard ancillary rules for public office such as for the appointment to the office, remuneration of the office holder or the employment of staff. It is not clear from the provision what oversight consists of or how the reporting obligation is to be discharged. For those reasons, it has been necessary to recast the provision through amendment No 66, which will replace clause 49. Amendment No 66 provides coverage for all the key elements around the establishment of a Northern Ireland climate commissioner.

Amendment No 67, which was tabled by Mr McGuigan and colleagues, or amendment No 68 from Mr Blair and colleagues, are not necessary. Therefore, I urge Members to support amendment No 66 and reject amendment Nos 67 and 68.

Amendment Nos 69 and 70 amend clause 50, which covers climate action plans, as I explained earlier. I have tabled amendments to align the requirements of clause 50 with those around clause 28 so that the Bill will require only the production of one five-yearly climate action plan. Under clause 28, the first report was to be called the climate action plan. If my amendments are accepted, the report will be required to be produced by the end of 2023. That is, therefore, within a shorter time frame than is proposed by amendment No 69, so I have no issue in supporting it.

I have already set out my position on the impact assessments, which will be required under amendment No 70. I will not labour the point about that other than to highlight the fact that, if amendment No 41 is agreed, in addition to my amendments about incorporating the climate action plan requirements into clauses 28 and 31, amendment No 70 is not necessary.

In summary, the majority of the amendments tabled by me and the technical fixes are to remove duplication and improve and strengthen the effect of a number of clauses that were added at Consideration Stage. The principle behind the amendments tabled by other Members in group 2 are fine, but, in most cases, my amendments achieve the same outcome in a better fashion. In other cases, the amendments are not necessary because the relevant requirements are dealt with in other legislation or as part of standard processes. I hope that Members present appreciate the rationale behind my amendments and the points that I have made in the debate and that they will vote accordingly.

That concludes my remarks on the amendments covered in the group 2 debate. I want to reply to Dr Archibald's comments about opportunities. Last week, I was in West Tyrone, and I was challenged by people from that constituency that the climate change legislation creates massive opportunities for mining in West Tyrone in particular, and the Sperrins in general, and that there are a lot of materials under the ground that could be used, particularly for electric vehicles. There is a genuine concern in the community that some people support this legislation so that that can be introduced into that area. I suspect that there will be considerable resistance to it. One needs to be careful when referring to opportunities: one person's opportunity is another person's nightmare. I add that comment in response to Dr Archibald.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin 9:15 pm, 28th February 2022

Tá sé mall, agus tá mé tuirseach; dá bhrí sin, ní bheidh mé ag caint ar feadh i bhfad. It is late, and we have talked at length, so I intend to keep my remarks very short. There was overwhelming support for the tenets of the aspects that we are discussing in group 2, such as just transition, the just transition commission, the climate commissioner, the need for amendments on carbon leakage and, by in large, the need for assessments. Some Members and parties have slight differences on certain aspects of that and things that they support in more detail. By and large, however, those aspects of the Bill have wide support, and that was indicated by all the parties. The Minister, in his summation of the amendments, spoke in favour of assessments. He felt that the amendments that we tabled were not necessary as they are things that the Department is currently obliged to do. He outlined the technical nature of his amendments and the reasons for tabling them. A number of his amendments are to tidy up previous amendments, deal with other amendments or avoid duplication. He felt that other amendments were unnecessary.

At this point, I thank the officials in the Bill Office and the departmental officials who were helpful to us and, I presume, to everyone else in assisting with amendments and in supporting the debate and the production of this legislation to get us to this point. As I said, it has been a long process, and we have debated at length, sometimes loudly. Hopefully, at this point, the debating has, by and large, concluded. Let us hope — fingers crossed — that the voting is quick, and we can conclude the debate tonight so that we can move towards meeting our ultimate objective of providing ambitious, long-overdue climate legislation for the citizens whom we represent. The Final Stage debate is scheduled for next week. After the voting, I hope that we can move towards that in a quick and timely manner, concluding the painstaking work by all of us to this point.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Members, we have now reached the stage at which approximately 50 votes are to occur. I intend to follow the outline set by the Business Committee, which is that business will continue to approximately 10 pm, and any outstanding business will commence tomorrow morning.

Amendment negatived.

Clause 18 (Sectoral plan for agriculture)

Amendment No 21 proposed:

In page 7, line 25, at end insert—

<BR/>

“(4) When developing Sectoral Plans for agriculture the Department must ensure that targets for biogenic methane reductions make a fair and proportionate contribution to achieving long-term temperature goals as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I think the Noes have it.

Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Speaker indicated earlier that he would take note of those who were voting for or against. That may help the proceedings.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I have noted that there has been opposition expressed on the Sinn Féin Benches. There was, perhaps —

[Pause.]

Apologies. Support was indicated from the Sinn Féin Benches. There was a gentle sprinkling amongst others. I do not know precisely where, but certainly there was support from the Sinn Féin Benches. I hope that the Member is content with that.

Amendment No 21 negatived.

Clause 22 (Carbon budgets)

Amendment No 22 proposed:

In page 8, line 13, at end insert—

<BR/>

“(b) commission a financial, social, economic and rural impact assessment on the effects of the carbon budget for that period, and”. — [Mr McGuigan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I remind Members that they should continue to maintain social distancing and that Members who have proxy voting arrangements in place should not come to the Chamber.

Before the Assembly divides, I remind Members that, as per Standing Order 112, the Assembly has proxy voting arrangements in place. Members who have authorised another Member to vote on their behalf are not entitled to vote in person and should not enter the Lobbies. Members should maintain social distancing during the Division.

The Assembly divided.

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 59; Noes 28

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Butler, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Mr Nesbitt, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Stewart, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr McAleer, Mr McGuigan

NOES

Mr Allister, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mrs Cameron, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Harvey, Mr Irwin

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment No 23 proposed:

In page 8, line 14, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

<BR/>

“(c) also consult with the Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner, the other Departments and the Just Transition Commission and lay the proposals with the Assembly.” — [Mr McGuigan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I have been advised by the party Whips that, in accordance with Standing Order 113(5)(b), there is agreement to dispense with the three-minute rule and move straight to the Division.

I remind Members to maintain social distancing, in particular the 2-metre gap, especially when moving around the Chamber, the Rotunda and the Lobbies.

The Assembly divided.

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 59; Noes 28

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Butler, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Delargy, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Mr Nesbitt, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Stewart, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Dr Archibald, Mr McGuigan

NOES

Mr Allister, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mrs Cameron, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr T Buchanan, Mr Harvey

Question accordingly agreed to.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I will not call amendment No 24, as it is mutually exclusive with amendment No 23, which has been made.

Amendment No 25 made:

In page 8, line 17, leave out subsection (3). — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 26 made:

In page 8, line 22, leave out paragraph (a). — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Clause 25 (Setting of carbon budgets: social, environmental and economic factors)

Amendment No 27 made:

In page 9, line 11, leave out “In this Act, when setting targets” and insert—

<BR/>

“In setting a carbon budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 28 made:

In page 9, line 19, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 29 made:

In page 9, line 24, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 30 made:

In page 9, line 26, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 31 made:

In page 9, line 28, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 32 made:

In page 9, line 29, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 33 made:

In page 9, line 31, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 34 made:

In page 9, line 35, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 35 made:

In page 9, line 36, leave out “target” and insert “budget”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 36 made:

In page 10, line 1, leave out subsection (2) and insert—



“(2) ‘Carbon leakage’ means the transfer of the production of goods (including agricultural goods) and the provision of services to countries without comparable climate change policies.


(3) In subsection (2), ‘comparable climate change policies’ are policies that are intended to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for the country in question which are equivalent to the targets set out in sections 1, 3 and 4, by the years set out in those sections.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Clause 28 (Proposals and policies for meeting carbon budget)

Amendment No 37 made:

In page 11, line 8, at end insert—



“(2) References in this Act to a ‘climate action plan’ are to a report under this section.” — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 38 made:

In page 11, line 23, leave out “12” and insert “16”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Amendment No 39 made:

In page 11, line 23, leave out “period” and insert “day”. — [Mr Poots (The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).]

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP 10:00 pm, 28th February 2022

The Business Committee recommended that we should work through the Order Paper until approximately 10.00 pm and that any business that has not been completed be resumed tomorrow morning at the start of the sitting.

The debate stood suspended.

Adjourned at 10.04 pm.