November 3, 2011

Northern Ireland urged to set binding carbon targets

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has urged Northern Ireland's environment minister to set emission reduction targets and establish a set of policies designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

The CCC has today published a report, commissioned by Northern Ireland's environment minister, which recommends that the country's executive government enacts its own climate change legislation, including setting legally binding emissions targets.

Northern Ireland is required to cut its emissions under the 2008 UK Climate Change Act, which aims to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

However, the Act does not apply particular targets or carbon budgets to Northern Ireland.

Today's report urges the Northern Ireland Executive to rectify this by setting targets similar to those in place across the rest of the UK, and to implement a set of policies and incentives which could cut emissions by 25 per cent between 2011 and 2020.

David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee, said the report showed significant opportunities to reduce emissions in Northern Ireland.

"Legislating carbon targets could help efforts to reduce emissions, if supported by appropriate policies," he said. "Moving now to a low-carbon path will be of economic benefit to the people of Northern Ireland in an increasingly carbon- and resource-constrained world."

The Northern Ireland Executive's 2007 Programme for Government set out a target to reduce emissions by 25 per cent in 2025 relative to 1990 levels. But the policy  was not accompanied by a supporting strategy.

The report urged the Executive to develop policies focusing on agriculture, road transport, energy, housing and the public sector, regardless of whether legislation is passed.

Agriculture produces 27 per cent of Northern Ireland's total emissions, but the report finds those emissions could be reduced by 20 per cent by 2020 through more efficient farming practices.

Road transport represents the second-largest source of emissions, and the report predicts this could reduced by 25 per cent by 2020 through increasing the use of low-carbon vehicles, biofuels, public transport and eco-driver training.


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