Climate change: Majority in Northern Ireland support net zero emissions targets by 2045

More than 60% of the public in Northern Ireland support a net-zero emissions target by 2045 in any climate change legislation passed by the Assembly, it has emerged in a new opinion poll, as two competing bills make their way through the assembly.

The poll, conducted by LucidTalk for the RSPB, also showed that most people living in rural areas are in favour of the net zero target.

Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK without its own climate legislation. The first draft bill from Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey's Climate Change NI, proposes a 2045 target for reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

But the second draft bill Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots' Climate Change NI Bill had originally set a less ambitious goal of reducing emissions by 82% by 2050.

However, the bill was significantly amended during its consideration stage at Stormont as MLAS voted that it should instead have a target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

The opinion poll asked the question: "Do you support climate change legislation that would ensure Northern Ireland meets net zero emissions by 2045?"

The results showed that 61% answered yes, 27% answered no and 12% were neutral, didn't know, or had no opinion.

Spokesman for the Climate Coalition NI, Daithi McKay said: "The public have once again expressed their clear support for ambitious climate legislation, and in this poll its show that they prefer a climate change act with a 2045 net zero target.

"Significantly this majority support exists in rural and urban communities alike. "Just five weeks remain in the current Assembly mandate, and without significant cross-party cooperation there is a risk that neither bill will be passed in time.

"In the context of a global climate emergency and the failure of the Assembly to legislate for climate action to date, this would be a monumental political failure."

Mr McKay added: "The facts from this poll are clear., the public are crying out for strong net zero climate legislation and MLAs must act on their behalf in the coming days and weeks.

"The Assembly has a responsibility to make passing of climate legislation a top priority as it prepares to schedule business for the last weeks of this term."

Mr Poots has repeatedly warned that a net-zero emissions target would case widespread devastation to the farming industry in Northern Ireland.

He has previously suggested he will push for the sector to be exempt from a new net-zero carbon target.

The LucidTalk poll was carried out between January 24-27 and received 2,042 responses across Northern Ireland. The polling company says it has a margin of error of +/-2.3%.