Climate Change (No. 2) Bill: Final Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:00 pm on 9th March 2022.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 12:00 pm, 9th March 2022

Ms Bailey does not like to give me any credit for anything, but under my tutelage, and as a result of decisions that I have taken in the Executive, that will be reduced by 25%. I imagine that not many others would have been able to deliver such a significant reduction — 25% — in another Department in two years on something to do with the environment. I will accept any praise that she might have for that reduction in ammonia and for the proposals that I am putting together to further reduce ammonia emissions. That is important.

Mr Muir made an issue of my not moving amendment Nos 57 and 58. Mr Blair has, I believe, written to me on that issue as well. The purpose of amendment Nos 57 and 58, which I tabled at Further Consideration Stage, was to replace the content of what are now clauses 13 to 22 — clauses 12 to 21 prior to the Further Consideration Stage — and link it to the requirements on the production of climate action plans. That would have helped to ensure that the provisions in the Bill on sectoral plans were clear and effective and were applied and administered efficiently.

The reason why amendment Nos 57 and 58 were not moved is that the amendments to remove clauses 12 to 21 were not selected for the Marshalled List. Therefore, there was no point in moving amendment Nos 57 and 58. Notwithstanding that, I have indicated that the view of officials is that there are no legislative competence issues with respect to clauses 13 to 22. There are certainly issues with the wording of the provisions, which could have and would have been improved if all my relevant amendments had been selected, voted on and agreed. However, the purpose of the subsidiary power contained in amendment No 57 was to provide flexibility to enable the targets to be more precisely delineated. It was never stated or implied in any correspondence from my Department that the power was required to make clauses 12 to 21 — now clauses 13 to 22 — operable or that they would be outside competence without them.

Of course, the most significant and concerning aspect of the clauses on the sectoral plans and associated targets is the inclusion of the aspirational target, which does not align with the recently agreed Executive targets and has the potential to be hugely costly on delivery. I assure Members that I and the Department are committed to ensuring the full implementation of the Bill's provisions once they are passed into law.

It is my privilege to make this winding-up speech. I thank Members for their support and commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved:

That the Climate Change (No. 2) Bill [NIA 28/17-22] do now pass.