Opinion: “The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow” for COP26

Through North Ireland Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots.

In January 2020, “The New Decade, New Approach” called on the Northern Ireland executive to tackle climate change head-on. Shortly afterwards, the Northern Ireland Assembly declared a climate emergency.

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time globally and nationally and Northern Ireland is not immune.

We have seen firsthand how climate change can lead to more frequent severe weather events, such as the northwest flooding in August 2017, and we face many other challenges besides tackling climate change, in particular the improvement of air quality, the fight against plastic pollution, the zero waste objective. and the development of a circular economy.

We simply cannot continue with a “business as usual” approach – we must act now before it is too late. There is still time to make a difference, but we must act now and we must do it together with a shared vision for the future and a plan to make it a reality.


Next week, I will attend the 26e United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Glasgow. COP26 will bring together signatory Parties to the Convention from around the world with the aim of accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The British government, in support of the UN, has set four key objectives: to ensure global ‘net zero’ by mid-century, to maintain a° C temperature rise at hand; adapt to protect communities and natural habitats; mobilize funding; and work together to deliver.

Leadership must be demonstrated at all levels, including decentralized administrations and local communities, as well as across all sectors, businesses and industries.

Realizing this vision of a cleaner and more sustainable world must be a priority – failing to do so would be irresponsible and the consequences unthinkable.


Green growth strategy

My department recently, on behalf of the Northern Ireland executive, launched a public consultation on a green growth strategy for Northern Ireland.

This multi-decade cross-cutting strategy will define the long-term vision and a solid framework to tackle the climate crisis by balancing climate action with a clean environment and economy.

It offers us an important opportunity to integrate broader climate change, a green economy and environmental considerations into decision making.

This would ensure that new policies and programs align with the need to tackle climate change, develop green jobs and meet biodiversity commitments.

This strategy represents an important step forward for Northern Ireland as we move from a high emission society to a low emission society and balance climate action with environmental and economic considerations.

I think this “green growth” approach is right for Northern Ireland; a Northern Ireland where we can all enjoy the long-term economic, social, health and environmental benefits that this brings.

I look forward to being able to promote the green growth strategy and the positive work already underway in Northern Ireland to tackle climate change, on the global stage at COP26.


Climate change bill

Climate change is at the heart of our approach to green growth. My climate change bill has now passed the second stage in the Assembly and I am convinced that, thanks to this bill, we can strike the right balance between safeguarding the environment, the economy and the company.

It is grounded in science, is evidence-based, and takes a sensible and realistic approach to what is an extremely complex problem, which can only be successfully solved by bringing in those who can make the change with us.

Northern Ireland will play an important role in achieving ‘net zero’ in the UK by 2050, if not sooner.

However, the green growth approach is not limited to climate goals – it also considers how we ensure sustainable development and protect our natural environment for our long-term health, well-being and prosperity.

Consumer demand

Continuing to satisfy consumption through traditional methods harms our environment and we must address this to restore and protect the natural assets we rely on, while supporting their sustainable use.

It’s something that starts with each of us – we can all make a difference.

In all sectors, businesses, organizations and as individuals, we will have choices before us where we must decide the impact of our decisions on the environment around us. “

We need to create green jobs, end our dependence on fossil fuels and find less harmful ways to heat our homes and businesses and power our cars, and provide opportunities by investing in innovation to help us develop new ones. work methods.

Many companies in Northern Ireland have already started to take the lead on these issues – the latest greenhouse gas [GHG] statistics show that corporate emissions have decreased by 25% since 1990.

Government cooperation and COP26

I recently led to obtaining the agreement of my executive colleagues for Northern Ireland to join the Under2 Coalition, a coalition of subnational governments committed to ambitious climate action under the Paris Agreement, to show our global commitment to tackle climate change, as well as the opportunities for information exchange it can bring.

I look forward to being able to engage with other members of the Under2 Coalition at COP26 to hear their experiences.

COP26 will be a key moment for all governments. The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow over the next fortnight – we must show that we are determined to tackle all of these vital issues head-on. “

Collectively, we must lay the foundations for a more sustainable society before irreparable damage is done – through innovation, research and development; and investment, we can lay the groundwork for a green revolution, which can rejuvenate our economy after the Covid-19 crisis.

Our planet is in crisis and this decade, the 2020s, must be one of urgent action. It is not too late. Today we are taking action. Tomorrow we thrive. We can, we want and we must.

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