Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland must act to prepare for climate change

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Media captionDoes NI need its own climate change legislation?

Northern Ireland needs to act now to prepare for the effects of climate change, a senior government adviser has warned.

Lord Krebs sits on an independent panel which advises central government and the devolved administrations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Northern Ireland, accounting for 29%.

He said flooding was the biggest risk, with about 60,000 homes vulnerable.

Image caption Government adviser Lord Kreb said flooding was the biggest climate-change related risk to Northern Ireland, with about 60,000 homes vulnerable

Lord Krebs, who was in Belfast to present a report on the specific challenges for Northern Ireland, said increased rainfall could also pose a risk to agriculture from soil erosion.

If properly managed, however, climate change could present opportunities, with warmer summers and longer growing seasons, he added.

Image caption Agriculture is the biggest emitter of greenhouse emissions in Northern Ireland, accounting for 29%

Climate change legislation

Agriculture, power generation and transport are the biggest emitters here.

There have been calls for local climate change legislation; Northern Ireland is the only devolved administration not to have it.

It would mean targets for cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

But there has been opposition to that, with claims it could make industry and farming here less competitive.

Lord Krebs said climate change could no longer be denied and there was now "absolutely overwhelming scientific consensus" about it.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the assembly should not pander "to mostly well off green zealots" by introducing a "disastrous" policy.

Agriculture and Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen has said she would keep the issue of local legislation "under review".

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