Northern Ireland news

Stormont committee gives support to Edwin Poots' 'less ambitious' net zero target

SDLP and Alliance MLAs on Stormont's environment committee join unionist counterparts in signalling support Edwin Poots' carbon reduction targets

SDLP and Alliance MLAs on Stormont's environment committee yesterday joined their unionist counterparts in signalling support for Edwin Poots' carbon reduction targets.

However, Patsy McGlone and John Blair's parties insist the move does not sound the death knell for the north's bid to reach net zero by 2045, as set out in Green leader Clare Bailey's private member's bill, which had the support of all Stormont's main parties bar the DUP when launched in 2020.

Mr Poots' alternative bill includes a less ambitious 82 per cent carbon reduction target by 2050.

The committee voted by six-to-three yesterday in favour of a clause backing Mr Poots' target, which has strong support among from the agrifood sector.

Sinn Féin environment spokesperson Philip McGuigan, who along with party colleague Declan McAleer and Ms Bailey voted against the clause, said he was disappointed by the committee's support for the less ambitious carbon reduction target.

"This was surprising given the stated public position of most party’s to this point has been for ambitious net zero targets," he said.

"It seems that some members and party’s are now rowing back from giving their fulsome support for decisive action."

Mr Blair said his party continued to "champion plans" that would enable the north to reach net zero ahead of 2050.

He insisted that Alliance "remains steadfast" in its support of the Green leader's bill and that it planned to "heavily amend" the minister's bill once it reached the assembly.

An SDLP spokesperson said the party had voiced concerns about Mr Poots' bill and remained committed to the aim of net zero emissions by 2045.

The spokesperson said the party would amend the minister's bill "where necessary".

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