Climate change targets: 'NI is playing catch-up'
Northern Ireland will have to play "catch-up" when it comes to introducing policies to tackle climate change, according to a government advisory body.
Less has been done than in other parts of the UK and plans need to be put in place to cut carbon emissions, it said.
The comments were made by Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
It is an independent body that advises government on climate action.
In May, it recommended a target of net-zero emissions for the UK economy by 2050, which has since been adopted by the UK government.
Mr Stark said the target would not be achievable "unless Northern Ireland does more" alongside other devolved administrations.
His comments came as the Department for Infrastructure prepared to spend £18m defending Belfast against tidal surges and the risk posed by rising seas levels due to climate change.
- Northern Ireland "needs new approach to climate change"
- Climate change: Should the UK's 2050 target be sooner?
- Environment Week: Rivers struggle to meet EU targets
The department will use the money to build permanent and temporary defences along the River Lagan between the docks and Stranmillis.
It is estimated about 1,000 homes and business in the city centre are at risk and the number could triple in coming decades due to climate change.
Officials said a city centre flood could cover up to 2 sq km (0.7 sq miles) and cost tens of millions of pounds, with the risk increasing in the years ahead.
The city centre is up to 2m below the level of the Lagan in the event of an extreme tide.
There was a near miss in January 2014 and the five highest tides recorded have all been since 1994.
Northern Ireland is the only devolved administration without its own climate change legislation and targets for emissions cuts, though it does contribute to a wider UK target.
Any targets are likely to cover agriculture, transport, energy supply and domestic heating, which all made a substantial contribution to Northern Ireland's 2016 greenhouse gas emissions of 20 million tonnes of carbon equivalent.
Mr Stark said the CCC was "constrained" in how it could advise politicians on measures here because of the absence of legislation.
And while he said it was not for the CCC to recommend its adoption, it would help provide a statutory framework to drive the policies that could address climate change.