We have all seen the effects of global warming through dramatic pictures of huge shelves of ice shearing away from the polar ice caps. Of course the issue is much more complex than that, but those images reinforce the message that climate change is no longer a matter for debate but a reality. The only details that have to be sorted out is how to arrest the factors that cause it.
orthern Ireland is the only region of the UK without legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets. Unsurprisingly it therefore lags well behind the rest of the UK in cutting emissions.
That is why the Climate Change Bill going before Stormont and sponsored by Green Party leader Clare Bailey is so important.
It provides a legal framework which could result in net zero carbon emissions by 2045. That is not an overly ambitious target given the severity of the crisis facing the world through climate change.
What is particularly heartening is that every party bar the DUP and TUV is supporting the Bill. The DUP is working on a rival bill.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, who is vying for the party’s leadership, and the agricultural sector argue that Ms Bailey’s Bill would disproportionately impact on farming even though it is the single biggest emitting sector responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposed new legislation would only set a framework for action and actual targets would be determined after consultation.
However, it has impressive credentials having been drawn up by lawyers, environmentalists and academics.
The world is edging closer and closer to a tipping point on climate change and there is no room for convoluted arguments and delaying tactics. While scientists say there is still time to avoid a crisis, there is no time to waste.
Our local politicians often bring criticism on themselves by refusing to act together on important issues, rather relying on scoring points and preventing positive action being taken.
On this occasion they deserve credit for supporting Ms Bailey and the cross-community support should ensure that the legislation becomes law sooner rather than later.
Other legislation has fallen in the past because of blocking methods employed by one of the major parties. This should not be allowed to happen on this occasion. Climate change, like the coronavirus pandemic, affects us all.
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