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The Climate Change (no 2) Bill, originally introduced to the Assembly by Minister Poots on 5th July 2021, concluded on Monday 7th February. As a result of discussions and the passing of many of the 80 amendments, the Climate Change (no 2) Bill is now significantly different to the version initially introduced. The updated version of the Climate Change (no 2) Bill is available here.
Some significant amendments passed in the course of those discussions and votes are as follows:
- A Net Zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 Target (see paragraph 1 of amended bill) – higher targets for 2030 and 2040 (paragraph 2, 3 and 4 of attached amended bill). Paragraph 5 of the attached amended bill means that the department can only amend the emission targets to bring forward the target year or to increase the target level of emission reductions. This addresses a concern about the text in the original draft that allowed the department to amend the targets year and the target level of emissions reductions as it chose, so this is also a significant change.
- A requirement for sectoral plans which will set out how the emissions reduction targets will be achieved by sector (paragraph 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20). Sectoral plans are also to support a Just Transition (12 (4))
- A target to have 80% electricity from renewables by 2030, (paragraph 14). Note that the target in the Energy Strategy (See page 7) is to have at least 70% electricity from renewables by 2030.
- A requirement for the Department for Infrastructure to allocate a minimum of 10% of the overall transport budget to active travel (paragraph 21)
- A requirement for five-year carbon budgets for all government departments (paragraph 22 to 29). The Just Transition is referred to again in paragraph 29 as something each department ‘must have regard to’.
- Establishing a Just Transition Fund for Agriculture (paragraph 30)
- The need for policies and proposals relating to carbon budgets to contain targets relating to soil quality and biodiversity (paragraph 31)
- The sectors required to produce carbon budgets are listed in paragraph 32
- The need for policies and proposals relating to carbon budgets to as far as practicable support nature-based projects (nature-based solutions) (paragraph 33)
- The requirement to establish a Just Transition Commission (paragraph 36)
- A duty on public bodies to report on climate change proposals and polices for adapting to or mitigating the effects of climate change (paragraph 41)
- The requirement for adaptation programme reporting (paragraph 47)
- A requirement to establish a Climate Commissioner within 2 years of the Act receiving Royal Assent (paragraph 49)
- A requirement to produce a Climate Action Plan within 3 years of the Act receiving Royal Assent (paragraph 50)
You can find more information on the progress with the Climate Change (no 2) Bill on the NI Assembly website. Including updates on the next stage of the process ‘Further Consideration’.