Northern Ireland agrifood supply chain calls on MPs to support climate change bill

Industry bodies in Northern Ireland have urged Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to support ‘scientific expert advice’ when making decisions on the Climate Change Executive Bill (No 2 ).

Ian Stevenson, Managing Director of the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland.

The bill, tabled for discussion on February 1, will see MPs debate and vote on clauses of the proposed climate change legislation.

One of the proposed recommendations is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Northern Ireland by 82% by 2050. The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) said members of the northern food supply chain -Irish consider this objective as “very ambitious, but achievable”.

Ian Stevenson, LMC’s chief executive for Northern Ireland, said the proposal presented a ‘very ambitious target but one which the industry can achieve as it should be technically possible to achieve such a reduction without decimating the industry’ .

“Stay alert”

Conall Donnelly, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association, said MPs should “keep in mind” that the beef, lamb and dairy industries contribute more than 50% of the £5 billion annual turnover of the food industry in Northern Ireland. He added: “The sectors also help support a significant percentage of the 113,000 agribusiness-related jobs. When tabling or supporting amendments, Members should not seek to undermine or contradict the vital contributions made by our sector.”

The chief executive of the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland, Mike Johnson, highlighted the important role livestock farming plays for local communities and the UK and European food supply. He added that MPs ‘who would advocate a contraction of our industry to meet unrealistic targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Northern Ireland beyond 82% by 2050 must take a long, hard look at themselves’ .

Find the right balance

Gill Gallagher, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association, also spoke about the importance of the proposal’s target of an 82% reduction in greenhouse gases. She said: ‘Anything beyond that will ultimately result in significant reductions in local livestock numbers and increased imports of higher carbon footprint feeds to meet demand.’

In a statement released by the LMC, industry leaders urged MPs not to “pull the rug out from under industry, but to work with it by promoting investment, legislation based on evidence, research, advice and advocacy”. That is what real political leadership should deliver on Tuesday when this bill is tabled for consideration.

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