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Executive Climate Change Department could see Northern Ireland lead the way, says Tennyson

An Executive Department for Climate Change could see Northern Ireland lead the way with targets to combat the climate crisis, Alliance Climate Change spokesperson Eóin Tennyson has said.

A recent report by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee suggested a climate change commissioner to scrutinise the Executive. However, Eóin said a specific Department could go further.

“It is an ongoing source of shame Northern Ireland does not have its own climate change laws, unlike neighbouring jurisdictions,” he said.

“All the experts have been clear – recent events across the globe are part of a wider climate crisis and we all have our role to play in minimising the damage. Northern Ireland needs a green recovery, as outlined in Alliance’s Green New Deal, and a crucial part of that is tackling this issue. 

“For too long, climate and energy policy in Northern Ireland has lacked ambition, direction and joined-up action. We have seen energy schemes waste public money through poor design and a lack of proper oversight in the past. 

“There are currently two competing Climate Change Bills making their way through the Assembly, which shows the need for a more focused approach. Whilst a Climate Change Commissioner would be able to scrutinise what’s happening, I believe we could go much further. 

“A new Executive Department for Energy and Climate Change with overarching responsibility for tackling the climate crisis could give leadership on this issue, deliver the long-overdue Climate Change Act we deserve and restore public confidence in green energy initiatives.

“The scale of the challenge is such that we clearly need a Minister to champion climate and energy issues at the Executive table, to direct policy and implementation of energy generation and efficiency schemes, and to oversee our transition to a zero-carbon energy future.”