Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee hosted a range of events to mark COP26

The focus of our Committee work in recent months has been on gathering evidence to help us examine the two new Climate Change Bills that are currently going through the Assembly. 


We’ve also been exploring the impact that climate change has on our local environment and investigating some of the emerging technologies and innovations that could help us reduce our carbon footprint in the years ahead. 


To help inform our work and raise awareness of the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow, we organised a series of events to highlight the issue of climate change locally. 


We also took the opportunity to encourage discussion about climate change, in the context of our examination of the Bills, and to showcase some of the important local carbon-friendly initiatives that are underway. 


The arrival of the Zero Carbon Hydrogen bus tour at Parliament Buildings on 30 September got the ball rolling. Transport is clearly a major source of greenhouse gases and the shift away from using petrol and diesel to electric and hydrogen powered vehicles will be one of the biggest changes we will see in the next few years. 


We were delighted to get an opportunity to see the bus first hand and to learn more about how the decarbonisation of local public transport will help to reduce our emissions. 

 

 

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COP26 was particularly timely for us in terms of increasing our knowledge of the current issues, debates and global legislation in relation to climate change, and on how we can all play our part in helping to develop good policy and laws to tackle its effects in the future. 


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Some of our Members travelled to Glasgow to take part in COP26 events, with our Deputy Chairperson, Philip McGuigan MLA leading the way by cycling to the conference in Glasgow and back!


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We were also delighted that the Assembly Commission agreed, at our request, to light Parliament Buildings green on Monday 1 November to mark the beginning of COP26 and to highlight this important global event. 


While climate change affects us all, we are conscious that our children and young people will be most affected by the actions that we take in the next ten to fifteen years, so we wanted to hear the views of local school pupils on what climate change means to them. 

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We had a great Q and A session with pupils from three local schools who absolutely blew us away with their knowledge and insightful questions on reducing fossil fuels, renewables, global warming, creating 'green' jobs and much more. You can watch the full video (with subtitles) from our event.



Finally, on 10 November, we marked the Transport themed day at COP26 by partnering with SustransNI who came to Parliament Buildings to tell us about the benefits of their Active Travel Programme. The highlight of the day was an opportunity for the Committee and other MLAs to trial electric powered bikes as an alternative e-friendly and sustainable form of transport.


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Happily, the weather was on our side and we proved the old adage that (luckily) you never forget how to ride a bike. Albeit, tackling those steep hills around the Stormont Estate was made a lot easier with the assistance of electronic pedal power. You can find out more information on Sustran’s Active Travel Programme and e-bikes on their website.


While COP26 has ended, we are only at the beginning of our local climate change journey. In the months ahead, we will continue our work on both Climate Change Bills, as well as helping to review, examine and develop future environmental policy.   


If you have missed any of our evidence sessions you can catch up  here  and watch upcoming meetings live via https://niassembly.tv/

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