Climate Commissioner role key to meeting our climate change targets, says Donnelly and Blair

Alliance MLAs Danny Donnelly and John Blair have emphasised the need for the creation of the office of the Climate Commissioner for Northern Ireland, a key commitment from the Climate Change Act passed during the last Assembly mandate. They were speaking following a meeting with Executive Office officials on the progress of the Act.

Danny Donnelly John Blair

“The passage of the Climate Change Act two years ago was a vital first step in tackling the imminent threat posed by climate change to Northern Ireland, and a good example of what can and needs to be done in a functioning Assembly,” said Mr Donnelly, Alliance spokesperson for Climate Change and Energy.

“But more work needs to be done in the current Assembly as soon as it is restored. One requirement of the Act is the establishment of an independent office known as the Northern Ireland Climate Commissioner, to oversee and report on the operation of the Act. This requires a First Minister and deputy First Minister to bring this legislation to the Assembly, something which should be done urgently.

“We have seen the role of Commissioners being used effectively in recent years, with the Commissioners for Older People or Children and Young People being just two examples of the proactive role that Commissioners can provide. The creation of the Climate Commissioner is essential to fulfilling our obligations under the Act, and identifying any future challenges and opportunities as we move towards the objective of net zero by 2050,” he added.

“The addition of the Climate Commissioner to the Climate Change Act was an important step, and it is important that we have an Executive and Assembly in place to complete this process and ensure a Climate Commissioner can be appointed soon,” said Mr Blair, Alliance spokesperson for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

“Northern Ireland faces many environmental challenges, with Lough Neagh being one of the most substantial we have seen recently. A Climate Commissioner can show leadership on these issues, and promote the importance of tackling climate change both within the Assembly and Executive and to the wider public. We urgently need an Executive in place to ensure we can deliver on this and our other climate commitments.”