Climate Change (No. 2) Bill: Final Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:45 am on 9th March 2022.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 11:45 am, 9th March 2022

I thank the Member for raising that issue. He is absolutely right about that. Ms Bailey talks so much about the problems in sub-Saharan Africa and other places. Those problems are here today, Ms Bailey. Maybe you do not realise that there is a massive problem in sub-Saharan Africa. When tenders for product are put out there, people do not respond. Tell that to the 120 million people in Egypt who are looking for food. They tender for that food, but there are no responses, and that is because there will be a shortage of food as a consequence of what is going on in Russia and Ukraine and food supply is already finely balanced. The policy that Ms Bailey wants this country to adopt is to produce less food. I say that that policy is mad. We have a growing number of people living in the world, and any policy under which you produce less food for that growing number of people is not a policy that any rational, sensible Parliament, Assembly or person should want to adopt.

The Member mentioned soil quality, but we are already ahead of the game. Planes and drones are out at this moment doing lidar mapping of Northern Ireland, and around 60% of that has already been achieved. We are already lidar mapping all of Northern Ireland so that we can see what is going on underneath the ground. We have a scheme over the next four years to analyse all the soils in Northern Ireland so that the appropriate nutrients to support food production can be introduced. We did not need legislation to do that; we needed common sense. That is being done.

Ms Bailey has always been critical of this DUP Environment Minister, but I have always said that, while the legislation gives us a framework, the green growth strategy gives us the engine and the transmission to drive all this forward. I stand to be corrected, so I will be happy to take an intervention, but I have yet to hear Ms Bailey complain that Mr Murphy did not give substantial enough support to deliver green growth and to deliver on the environmental agenda in Northern Ireland. She can quickly criticise the DUP Minister, but she is reluctant to criticise a Sinn Féin Minister. She can answer for that, although I note that she has not.

The Member also referred to the agri-food sector as the highest-emitting sector — not the highest-employing sector but the highest-emitting sector. That is how she looks at the agri-food sector. I recognise —.