Northern Ireland has the potential to contribute more to UK action on climate change, said the CCC’s Chief Executive, David Kennedy. The Northern Ireland Assembly recently pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the authority by 25% by 2025, relative to 1990 levels. But yesterday, at an event in Stormont, Belfast, Kennedy said that emissions could be reduced by 2 MTCO2e, if steps were taken to improve energy efficiency in buildings and industry, to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles and make changes in the agriculture and forestry sectors. This would put Northern Ireland on track to contribute towards a UK wide target of reducing emissions by at least 34% in 2020.
Speaking at the event, Paul Simpson, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Environment welcomed the CCC’s recent report and said that the Assembly would support the Climate Change Act. However, he voiced concern over the proportion of households living in fuel poverty in Northern Ireland, which is at 34%, the highest of any region in the UK.
The CCC has projected that with rising energy prices required to deliver emissions reduction the number of households in fuel poverty in Northern Ireland could rise by up to 70,000 in 2020 relative to a world without carbon policies. The CCC also estimates that 20,000 of these households could be brought out of fuel poverty if the Northern Ireland Assembly supports energy efficiency measures to improve insulation in people’s homes. Kennedy said that fuel poverty impacts could be fully mitigated through the use of social tariffs and through funding winter heating programmes at manageable cost to the economy.