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Environment charity calls for five key improvements to the ‘fatally flawed Green Growth Strategy for Northern Ireland
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Environment charity calls for five key improvements to the ‘fatally flawed Green Growth Strategy for Northern Ireland

Hundreds of people joined the NI Climate Coalition's Rally in Belfast City Centre

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, an environmental charity, has requested five improvements to Edwin Poots Green Growth Strategy for Northern Ireland.

According to the NGO, if the government is to really address the climate and biodiversity crises, it should be looking to create an economy and society that serve the needs of its citizens and not continue to serve the economy and people.

The Northern Ireland’s Green Growth Strategy was closed to public consultation on December 21, 20,21. It provides a roadmap for creating a greener Northern Ireland.

It has been hailed by Edwin Poots, Agriculture and Environment Minister, as the way forward.

FOE NI praised it Take a step in the right directionsin its response.

It also states that it is still bound to the very models that brought us to these existential crisis.

This reflects the extent and breadth of the crises, the charity said.

Hundreds of people joined the NI Climate Coalition's Rally in Belfast City Centre
Hundreds of people participated in the NI Climate Coalition Rally in Belfast City Centre

We must recognize that our economic model that relies on growth and GDP must be fundamentally changed.

It will not suffice to try and fix the climate by reorganizing business-as usual.

Although the overall vision is admirable, the inclusion of growth in it is fatally flawed.

A finite planet cannot sustain continuous growth, whether it is green or not.

Some demonstrators would prefer that the rights of nature be protected

They also questioned the enforceability of the law, saying that if the Executive is as committed as the vision was, then surely it would be the best course to take action to make it law.

It is now at risk of becoming just another high-quality document collecting dust on a virtual shelf.

They also spoke out against the many policies and programs being pursued by leaders in Northern Ireland.

They continued: There is still a Statutory Duty to promote natural gases, exploration licences remain active, oil and gas storage facilities await approval, the vast majority transportation budget is spent on roads with many major road projects still planned. Northern Ireland is being promoted to the world as a location for minerals exploitation and agricultural policy is geared towards industrialization to serve the export market.

Friends of the Earth NI concluded with five recommendations to improve the work.

They include:

  1. Empowering communities for change, democratic revival and system reform.
  2. Commitment To a Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill in conjunction with a Climate Bill with zero-carbon target and just transition principles, such as the one enacted by Wales.
  3. Use of a Living Standards Framework as a progress indicator instead of Gross Domestic Product. They claim the former is poor because it increases while the environment degrades and people’s wellbeing decreases.
  4. Power Northern Ireland with renewable electricity and improved energy efficiency. They stated that while the Executive is committed to the idea of natural gas as an energy sector bridging fuel, they don’t believe we need a future dominated solely by fossil fuels.
  5. A moratorium on industrial agriculture and a just transition plan to reduce livestock production by half by 2030 will reverse the decline in nature. This should include restoration of peatlands, reforestation, and the recognition of family farms for their nature-friendly practices.

They added that the Green Growth Strategy contained many positive ideas and was a good step in a positive direction.

However, it suffers from being built on an economy and political model that doesn’t support the kind of radical policies needed to address climate and ecological crises. Strong, immediate action is required to stop species decline, ecosystem collapse, increasing physical and mental ill health, and the climate emergency.

Edwin Poots states that “the development a cross-cutting Executive Green Growth Strategy will map out the actions required to meet sector-specific targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions which will deliver a cleaner and more efficient use of resources within a circular economy, and will create more green jobs.”

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