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Blair – The climate emergency is now

The Alliance Party has backed plans for a specific Climate Change Act for Northern Ireland, adding it is essential this is acted on immediately.

The Party’s Environment spokesperson John Blair MLA was speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, after weeks of consistently raising concerns over the Departments seemingly pushing action on climate change to the side in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “The world is facing a climate emergency, with potentially disastrous consequences if action isn’t taken – that hasn’t changed in the time since New Decade, New Approach was released over six months ago and yet we find ourselves having to force the Minister to recognise that fact.

“I have already expressed concerns that the department has handed backed over £1.5 million pounds for staffing, research and development. Scaling back on this issue is not an option, we can’t delay any longer – the climate emergency is now.

“Despite the budget setbacks, the previous announcement of a green growth strategy is our chance to embrace all the benefits our environment has enjoyed during lockdown. The Assembly has made clear it expects the Minister to act now. A Climate Change Act must be brought forward. Otherwise we face an increase in variable weather and climate patterns, increases in flooding, changes in the natural habitats and biodiversity within these islands, which will only get worse over time.”

Andrew Muir MLA, the Party’s Infrastructure Spokesperson, added tackling climate change now would aid the creation of a green infrastructure strategy, whilst also encourage the reduction in household energy consumption.

“Now is the time we must be investing in our future, promoting green and active travel initiatives and seeking new ways to maintain and enhance our existing structures will make them more sustainable long term.

“In the past six months everything has changed as a result of COVID-19. The need for us to act urgently in response to the Climate Emergency has not however changed one bit.”