Northern Ireland

Public meetings to be held over carbon reduction targets

A public consultation has been launched on carbon budgets for Northern Ireland (Lewis Whyld/PA)
A public consultation has been launched on carbon budgets for Northern Ireland (Lewis Whyld/PA)

Public meetings will be held as part of a consultation on the first ever carbon budgets for Northern Ireland.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched the public consultation, which will run until October 11.

A carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted in a given period.

The Stormont Assembly passed a Climate Change Act before it collapsed last year, which states Northern Ireland must reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by at least 48% by 2030.

The UK Climate Change Committee (CCC), the UK government’s independent statutory body for advising on emissions targets, has advised that the first carbon budget for Northern Ireland from 2023-2027 should be set at levels that have an average reduction of 33% on 1990 levels.

The second carbon budget from 2028-2032 requires an annual reduction of 48% and the third, for the period 2033-37, requires a reduction of 62%.

The consultation being launched seeks feedback on the proposed first three carbon budgets.

DAERA permanent secretary, Katrina Godfrey, said: “We have over recent months had much debate and discussion about financial budgets, but we also need increasingly to focus on and talk about carbon budgets.

“We need to understand the best trajectory to ensure the legally binding emissions targets contained in the Climate Change Act are delivered and this consultation is designed to help us do this.

“The drive to achieve net zero is one that requires all departments here to work collaboratively, with climate action now a high priority for every department.”

Ms Godfrey said an investment of public funding would be required.

She added: “We want therefore to use this consultation to provide the evidence and insights that will allow us to advise returning ministers on the steps they will need to take, not only to comply with the law but also to protect and enhance our environment, air, and water quality and to promote green growth.

“It is clear that Northern Ireland is well placed when it comes to identifying new opportunities and developing the new technologies and expertise that could generate real competitive advantage and help us develop new, greener economic opportunities.”

A series of consultation sessions are planned as well as public consultation sessions, with dates to be announced.