It is unfortunately not surprising that the DUP – which was heavily implicated in the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal – is opposing a bill aimed at making Northern Ireland carbon-neutral by 2045. Environment Minister Edwin Poots has called for a “balanced approach to tackling climate change” – that is, balancing the future of our planet against the interests of big business. The Northern Ireland Executive as a whole, however, has not acted in defence of our environment, failing to block plans for destructive fracking, drilling and mining.
If we are to reduce carbon emissions by at least 45% over the next decade, urgent action is needed. We cannot allow Stormont intransigence to threaten our planet. Nor can we allow the cost of tackling climate change to be placed on the shoulders of ordinary people through unjust and ineffective carbon taxes, as the Green Party are attempting in government in the South. Just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of emissions and they must foot the bill.
We need to build a movement for a just transition away from fossil fuels and a socialist Green New Deal, improving living standards and creating secure, well-paid jobs. That means massive investment in free and accessible public transport, renewable energy and sustainable industries. This should be funded by taking the hoarded wealth of the billionaires, and bringing the major polluters and key sectors of the economy into democratic public ownership.