A bid to introduce climate change legislation in Northern Ireland has commenced its legislative journey at the Stormont Assembly.
Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey last week tabled the Private Member’s Bill that proposes that Northern Ireland commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2045.
The Bill, which also envisages to the establishment of a Northern Ireland Climate Office, is supported by Sinn Féin, the SDLP, UUP, Alliance Party, People Before Profit and a number of independent MLAs.
It was developed by the Climate Coalition NI, which is made up of a range of scientists, academics, lawyers and environmental organisations.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without a climate change act.
The DUP has not signed up to support the Private Member’s Bill. DUP Environment Minister Edwin Poots is developing his own climate change legislation.
Proposals put out for public consultation at the end of last year contain less ambitious carbon reduction targets.
The first stage of the passage of Ms Bailey’s Bill was procedural and did not involve a debate on the proposed legislation. That will happen at its second stage.
If the Bill is backed by a majority of MLAs at that stage it will be referred to an Assembly committee for scrutiny.
Ms Bailey said: “Climate breakdown is the defining issue of our time and something that successive Northern Ireland governments and administrations have failed to get to grips with.
“Today’s first stage reading is an important step in creating the framework for the just transition to a low carbon economy which leaves no citizen behind.”