New film charts development of Northern Ireland’s Climate Change Act

New film charts development of Northern Ireland’s Climate Change Act

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland and Queen’s University Belfast have launched a new film charting the ups and downs of the campaign for Northern Ireland’s first climate change law.

The film, ACT NOW! The race to get a Climate Act for Northern Ireland, which launched this morning, explores how the Climate Change Act 2022 came to be and hears from the campaigners, academics, and legal experts directly involved in bringing it about.

The Climate Change Act became law in June 2022. It holds the Northern Ireland departments to a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It also includes 2030 and 2040 interim targets, provisions for carbon budgets, climate action plans, a Climate Commissioner, a Just Transition Commission, and a Just Transition Fund for agriculture.

Clare Bailey, interim director with Sustainable NI, was the back bench MLA who introduced the Climate Change Act. Reflecting on the long struggle to introduce the law, she said: “The New Decade New Approach Agreement that restored the Executive back in 2020 promised we would get a Climate Change Act and an Independent Environment Protection Agency. This was great news until the DUP then gave us Edwin Poots as DAERA Minister. It was at that point I knew that we would have to live up to a New Decade, New Approach and do things differently if we were ever to achieve progress and that is what we did.”

Anurag Deb, constitutional law expert and author of the draft climate change bill, commented: “It was an honour to be a part of a civil society initiative which mobilised grassroots activists, unlocked political potential and ultimately resulted in one of the most comprehensive climate change laws in the UK and Ireland.”

Malachy Campbell, senior policy officer, Northern Ireland Environment Link, and secretariat to CCNI, added: “The fact that the Assembly passed NI’s first climate change act is a tribute to the efforts of the NGOs and academics in the Climate Coalition NI and the legal experts and cross-party group of MLAs, along with their party colleagues, that supported it throughout the process. This documentary is a powerful illustration of what can be achieved when civil society and politicians work together and that is something I hope to see much more of in the future.”

James Orr, director of Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland commented: “The Climate Change Act is very welcome but long overdue. It’s been a long hard struggle to get here, and it shouldn’t have taken civic society to get the Minister to do his job, but Northern Ireland has finally taken a step towards no longer being a climate laggard. Our job now is to make sure the provisions of the Act are introduced. The first deadlines have already been missed. We must ensure we don’t miss anymore.”

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