The Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee has published its Report on the Climate Change (No.1) Bill (10th December 2021).
The Bill, which is one of two pieces of climate change legislation being reviewed by the Committee, was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by Clare Bailey MLA.
Speaking after publication of the report Committee Chairperson, Declan McAleer MLA, said: “We all agree that climate change is one of most important issues facing society. However, unlike other jurisdictions across the UK, Ireland and the EU, we have yet to enact dedicated climate change legislation here.
“In our examination of this Bill, it was important for us to hear from as many people as possible to fully understand and appreciate the potential benefits and impacts on all sectors.”
Mr McAleer continued, “While the Committee’s report recommends that this Bill moves forward to the next stage of the legislative process, we have sought a number of amendments which the sponsors of the Bill have taken on board.
“We support the establishment of a Climate Change Commissioner as a means of providing locally based, independent oversight of government action. However, we recommended that further safeguards be implemented with regards the Commissioner’s powers to access documents.
“We have also recommended the need for stronger Just Transition principles in the Bill and the establishment of a Just Transition Fund for Agriculture.
“We recognise the strong difference of opinion on the net–zero emissions 2045 target with some seeing this as an ambitious pledge and others expressing concern about the damaging impact it could have on the agri–food sector. We were unable to reach a consensus on what the emissions target should be and this issue will no doubt remain central to the debate when the Bill moves to the next stage.”
Mr. McAleer concluded: “While we may still be at the beginning of our climate change journey here, the constructive and proactive engagement with stakeholders on both Climate Change Bills has provided a very real opportunity to develop cohesive and effective legislation here.
“We must continue to work together over the coming months to build a considered, sustainable and collaborative approach to tackling climate change now and in the future.”
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