Northern Ireland needs a robust approach to carbon emissions but also a realistic one

News Letter editorial of Friday October 15 2021:

By Editorial
Saturday, 16th October 2021, 7:49 am
Updated Saturday, 16th October 2021, 7:52 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The Green Party NI has a climate change bill before Stormont which so far has the support of a majority of MLAs.

It wants Northern Ireland to have a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2045.

This is not far into the future. Within weeks we will be in 2022, which is only 23 years until 2045.

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To go 23 years back in time takes you to the approach to the Millennium. To young people that will seem an eternity ago, particularly those children who had not even been born by the end of the 1990s.

But to anyone in middle age or beyond, that is not that far back in time, and similarly 2045 is not that far into the future.

To have eliminated all carbon emissions by then is a formidable target, perhaps even an absurd one.

After all, it is environmentalists who seem to be most opposed to nuclear power, which has no carbon emissions, yet which seems inconceivable on either side of the Irish border.

We should pay attention to what happened in Germany after it pledged to phase out nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan a decade ago. The nation now has a vast reliance of coal and is one of Europe’s worst polluters.

The voice of agricultural world in Northern Ireland is clear — a net zero target by 2045 is a goal too far and will cause a great burden on the agrifood sector.

The DUP environment minister Edwin Poots is to be applauded on his alternative Stormont climate change bill.

It takes the matter of climate change very seriously, and seeks an ambitious goal of a whopping 82% reduction in emissions over a slightly longer time scale, to 2050.

It is long overdue Stormont moved beyond acting as if financial costs and business burdens just don’t matter. It is a mindset steeped in the public sector, where someone else always pays — usually ultimately London.

NI needs a robust but realistic approach to harmful emissions.

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Ben Lowry