Stormont backs net zero

Stormont backs net zero emissions by 2050 (via BBC)

Proposals for a target of net zero emissions in Northern Ireland by 2050 have been backed at Stormont after a lengthy debate.

The vote, which passed by 50 to 38, came during the latest stage of a bill to tackle climate change.

The DUP and UUP had vowed to oppose the plan, but it was supported by the Greens, Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots had argued instead for a target of reducing emissions by 82% by 2050.

He said the decision by most assembly members (MLAs) to support a stricter approach was “not achievable”.

The issue was the focus of political disagreement on Tuesday as MLAs debated a series of amendments to Mr Poots’ Climate Change (No.2) Bill.

The minister said his bill would tackle the “complex and urgent” issues of climate change, but warned that the targets proposed by other parties were not backed by evidence.

But Green Party leader Clare Bailey, who had put forward the amendment of net zero emissions by 2050, said scientific evidence was clear that the situation was “code red” and that the assembly could no longer delay implementing net zero targets.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) and independents Claire Sugden and Alex Easton voted against the amendment.

The Greens, Sinn Féin, Alliance, SDLP, People Before Profit, plus Trevor Lunn and Jim Wells voted in favour.

The draft bill can still be amended at a later stage, but will need to become law before the assembly is dissolved ahead of May’s election, which means an effective deadline of the end of March.

Earlier, Ms Bailey had hoped to move an amendment to the Edwin Poots bill by bringing forward the target date to 2045.

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