Rachel Woods MLA today joined young people (Tuesday 14th December 2021) at a protest outside Stormont calling for a more ambitious Environment Strategy for Northern Ireland. The protest was organised by the RSPB in response to the draft Environment Strategy launched by Minister Edwin Poots launched last month.
The North Down MLA, who chairs Stormont’s All-Party Group on Climate Action, said: “The five-party Executive has consistently failed in its duty to protect Northern Ireland’s environment. Minister Poot’s weak draft Environment Strategy certainly fails to do what’s needed to change the Executive’s direction.
“The strategy falls far short of what has been recommended by independent advisory bodies. For example, The Woodland Trust has said that Northern Ireland needs to aim for woodland levels of 16% to 18%, but the draft strategy just proposes increasing our woodland cover from 8% to 8.8% by 2030.
“Northern Ireland has the highest per capita greenhouse emissions in the UK and Ireland – our poor air quality is anticipated to cause 84,000 new cases of disease by 2035. Up to seven million tonnes of raw sewage is released into our waterways each year, resulting in none of our rivers, lakes or costal waters meeting even basic ‘good’ quality standards. Northern Ireland is the twelfth worst place in the world for biodiversity loss.
“We are clearly in the midst of a climate emergency, but the Executive parties are still not responding to this crisis with the urgency required. Vague and unambitious strategies are no substitute for the robust net-zero climate legislation Northern Ireland needs. The Green Party NI is leading on delivering a cross-party net-zero Climate Change Bill, which I am hopeful will be passed by the Assembly in the new year.”
Media contact: Jack O'Dwyer-Henry (07504410770)