A Private Member's Bill was introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2021 by Claire Bailey, MLA. Proposed provisions would:
- enable the mitigation of the impact of climate change in NI
- establish a legally binding net-zero carbon target for NI
- provide for the establishment and powers of the NI Climate Commissioner and NI Climate Office
- guarantee existing environmental and climate protections.
The RCPCH welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Call for evidence and views on the 2021 Climate Change Bill, and we agree with the four stated policy objectives, as listed above.
In 2020 the RCPCH joined a coalition of organisations to declare a climate emergency, which poses an existential threat to population health in the UK and across the world, and has a detrimental, disproportionate effect on children and young people whose bodies are still developing. The RCPCH especially welcomes that Section 1 of the proposed Climate Change Bill will declare a legal climate emergency in this region and underpin the implementation of mitigating actions to minimise impact.
We welcome the establishment of a net-zero carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by the year 2045, but feel that NI could be more ambitious in setting an earlier net zero target. We also welcome the proposals around targets and measures within the Bill but feel that transformational targets including Nationally Determined Contributions to emission reductions should be considered.
The RCPCH particularly welcome the establishment of an Office of a Climate Commissioner because an independent expert body can strengthen climate governance and ensure more evidence-based policymaking. We also welcome the sectoral focus of the Bill but affirm that all health services should become net zero as soon as possible and before 2040.
The RCPCH strongly supports national policies, practices and legislation that aim to mitigate climate change and improve outdoor air quality because, collectively we have a responsibility to act for the health and wellbeing of future generations.
Read the full response below.
We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College’s position, and ultimately children’s health, is represented. Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the RCPCH Ireland team on email@example.com.