Clare Bailey MLA has responded to the publication of the Executive’s new Energy Strategy, and raised concerns that Ministers have not ruled out fracking.
The Green Party NI Leader said: “The long overdue Energy Strategy is a missed opportunity. The Strategy was an opportunity to establish a robust framework for future energy policy, delivering climate action and tackling fuel poverty. But there is no mention of a just transition, nor a plan for green job creation. The Strategy gives vague commitments with a lack of specific financial investment or action plans.
“The Executive speak of a commitment to phasing out fossil fuels, yet have failed to introduce a moratorium on onshore petroleum licensing and drilling. Ministers must bring forward an immediate and unequivocal fracking ban if they want to be taken seriously on addressing climate breakdown. The Strategy also worryingly includes proposals for blue hydrogen production, a fuel source shown to emit up to 20% higher emissions than natural gas.
“The Energy Strategy’s goal of increasing the amount of renewable energy production is welcome, but it must be accompanied by the required investment. Last year, 42.1% of total electricity consumption in Northern Ireland was generated from renewable sources, a 5.5 percentage point decrease on the previous year. This drop is in part due to a reduction in wind generation, which is evidence of the need to have a more diverse and properly-funded renewable electricity network, incorporating more solar, tidal and other forms of sustainable energy production.
“The Strategy states that ‘the current legislative and regulatory base is not sufficient to deliver on this Energy Strategy’. Ministers must bring forward the necessary legislation and regulations to deliver on their commitments as a matter of priority.
“It is crucial that we reach net-zero as soon as possible. We are in a climate emergency, and there is no time for delay. The cross-party Climate Change Bill provides the framework for a just transition to net-zero, and the weaknesses of this Energy Strategy demonstrate the need for robust climate legislation for Northern Ireland.”
Media contact: Jack O’Dwyer-Henry (07504410770)