LISTEN - Collapse of Stormont would hamper efforts to take climate crisis – Eastwood

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A climate change protest in Belfast

By Rebecca Black, PA

The collapse of Stormont will hamper efforts to tackle the climate crisis, the SDLP leader has warned.

Colum Eastwood sounded the warning after DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party’s ministers will resign from the Stormont Executive by November if the UK Government has not acted over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The resignation of the DUP’s ministers will effectively collapse the powersharing institutions.

Mr Eastwood said this will in turn impact on efforts to tackle climate change.

He is set to be among protesters taking part in a demonstration on Monday afternoon calling for a Net-Zero Climate Act.

The Foyle MP has been speaking to Q Radio:

Pictured - SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood

“Managing the Covid-19 pandemic, addressing the hospital waiting list crisis, mitigating unemployment following the withdrawal of the furlough scheme and playing our part in tackling the climate crisis – the defining challenge of our generation,” he said.

“With all of that facing us, local politicians need to get on with delivering solutions, there is no time to waste on selfish and self-indulgent threats to the stability of government. People are sick of it.

“It is inconceivable that, faced with a crisis that will redefine our planet, the DUP is choosing party politics while it holds the ministerial portfolio that can make the most direct impact on climate policy.”

Mr Eastwood said any collapse of Stormont could see crucial legislation to tackle the climate crisis fail, as well as voices from Northern Ireland “silenced” at the global climate change conference COP26 in October.

“At a time when the SDLP is pressing for the Executive to step up with its own climate summit, others are intent on obstructing the action needed to protect our people and planet. They need to wise up, before it’s too late,” he said.

“Whatever Jeffrey Donaldson does next, SDLP will keep pushing for change.”

Mr Eastwood’s Climate Emergency Bill is set to receive it’s second Reading in the House of Commons in December.

It includes the declaration of a climate emergency, a call to bring forward the date by which the UK must achieve net zero, place a duty on the British Government to introduce proposals for a green corporate levy on the largest companies to resource climate action and to bring forward a Green Jobs strategy.

Mr Eastwood added: “The legislation I have tabled at Westminster is an overarching attempt to tackle the climate crisis.

“I am setting out a radical plan with robust targets to ensure that we are all doing what is required immediately to save our planet.

“With the crisis deepening, environmentally and politically, it is now critical that efforts to get legislation passed are stepped up.

“This could be our last chance.”

Pictured - Parliament Buildings

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