Northern Ireland’s net zero desires cannot be realised until power is restored fully to its government.
That’s according to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which has said that without Stormont being a power-sharing government, there can be no progress towards the 2050 net zero target.
Northern Ireland set the goal last spring but CCC Chief Chris Stark warns that if things don’t change swiftly it won’t be feasible.
He said: “It’s hard, sadly, to point to many areas of progress. It is literally every corner of the economy that needs to respond to this target. And we will need literally every single bit of the government and of the executive in Northern Ireland to respond. Without that, there’s really very little hope of getting on track with any of this.”
The CCC also recently released a report detailing steps that could be taken to keep the country on track to achieving its first carbon budget in 2027.
Farming makes up 28% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, which led the committee to suggest cutting livestock numbers down by one third by 2050.
Mr Stark added: “I’m afraid I’m not of the view that these targets can just be presented as just high-ambition stretch targets and that it doesn’t matter if we don’t meet them – because they’re legal obligations. And I don’t want to see the law undermined in that way.
“So, if net zero is the goal, this is the path you’ve got to follow. And it has very deep implications for society and particularly for agricultural production.”
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said: “Daera has welcomed the publication of the CCC report, which clearly sets out the size and scale of the challenge that we are facing across a number of sectors including agriculture, land use, transport and buildings.
“This detailed advice from the CCC will be considered by all departments to help inform the best pathway for Northern Ireland. Daera is conscious that the civil service will not have all the answers to the challenges presented in the CCC advice. This detailed advice from the CCC will be considered by all departments.”