McGlone: there can be no doubt that we face a climate emergency

SDLP Environment Spokesperson, Patsy McGlone urged senior Departmental officials to treat the climate crisis with the severity it deserves and not to play to the flawed politics of a DUP Minister.

The Mid Ulster MLA commented, “Minimisation of the climate crisis and the confusion that ensued from Minister Poots, based on an official briefing, is deeply troubling. While the Permanent Secretary attempted to clarify the situation at the Committee meeting today, it does not make it any less worrying.

“Minister Poots reluctance to acknowledge the limited window we have to adapt our behaviour, mitigate the damage and prevent climate breakdown is a dereliction of duty. We have already wasted three years with no local Assembly to deliver dedicated legislation for Northern Ireland.

“Today at the emergency Environment Committee meeting, I took the opportunity to present evidence to senior officials. The evidence is as stark as it is startling. More than 11,000 scientists, from 153 nations, are in agreement that there is a climate crisis. There is absolutely no time to waste. I was glad to receive assurances from senior officials that they acknowledged the irrefutable science and would treat this situation with the importance it deserves.

“I also asked officials to clarify the legislative course of action as it relates to climate change and repeated the SDLP’s call for a Climate Change Act for the North.

SDLP Finance Spokesperson, Matthew O’Toole MLA added, “Civil servants have a difficult job in our unique institutions. While it is understandable that they may tailor some language to the preferences of an individual Minister, they absolutely should not be presenting information they know to be inaccurate, simply on the basis that it chimes with the Minister’s own prejudices.

“If the RHI scandal taught us anything, it is that our political institutions will only be durable if Ministers demand impartial advice and robust information, then act on that information. Unfortunately, it appears we are a long way from that happening.”