SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster Patsy McGlone has welcomed the Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland passing its final stage in the Assembly this week.
“I’m very relieved that the legislative process on climate change has come to a conclusion. Everyone accepts the need to help address the need for action on climate change and we have continually highlighted the need for local legislation to help address the Climate Emergency that the world faces.
“In my role as a Member of the AERA Committee, I worked closely with other Members to try to achieve the best and most balanced outcome which recognised the important environmental, social and economic factors here in the North. With party colleagues in the Assembly, the SDLP worked hard to strengthen and improve the Bill. In fact the role of our party was pivotal in achieving the accommodation within the Bill on methane targets which recognised the socio-economic reality and importance of agriculture and the agri-food sectors.
“The legislation that has now been passed sets ambitious but realistic targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Executive departments will have to develop plans for relevant sectors of the economy showing how that sector will contribute to achieving those targets.
“A specific Just Transition Fund for Agriculture will be set up to provide incentives and advice to the agricultural sector to help it deliver its contribution.
“There will also be a Just Transition Commission established to support all sectors of our economy as they make the adjustments necessary to meet the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“This was a prime objective for the SDLP, and we used our votes in the Assembly to ensure that the mechanism for a Just Transition, and the principles covering it, was included in the final Bill.
“Another key component in the final legislation is the role of a Climate Commissioner who will now be appointed within 2 years. The Commissioner will oversee and report on the implementation of the legislation.
“There will also be a Climate Change Committee in the Assembly to scrutinise the actions taken by Executive Departments towards meeting our targets locally.
“It has taken a long time to get to this stage. We, in the SDLP, have played a major role in making the final legislation fit for purpose and laying preparation for future generations.”