Published: 18 Mar 2022

As the only part of the UK previously without any climate legislation, Northern Ireland will soon pass a bill which aims for net zero emissions by 2050, with a separate target for methane reductions. 

The new legislation limits the reduction in methane, the greenhouse gas mostly produced by agriculture, to 46%. Agriculture and Environment Minister, Edward Poots, argued that this limit was in line with recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the UK's Climate Change Committee (CCC). 

The bill also calls for the appointment of a climate change commissioner, as well as legal provision for just transition – a principle which aims to support sectors in adjusting without being penalised. 

In the earlier stages of the bill, Poots proposed an 82% reduction in emissions. However, the assembly voted to amend the bill, agreeing that a ‘net zero’ target would bring the country in line with other parts of the UK. 

Northern Ireland had previously garnered criticism for a lack of climate legislation, with Chris Stark, the Chief Executive of the CCC, reinforcing that legal targets for climate change is crucial. 

Responded to the accusations, Poots said: “I am pleased my climate change bill has got to this stage... some said I could not or would not bring this forward but it's clear, as I stand here today, those accusations were unfounded.”