Northern Ireland’s dependence on agriculture will impede the region’s ability to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the chair of the UK Climate Change Committee has said.

Lord Deben was addressing the Institute of Directors’ (IoD) inaugural energy symposium, which took place virtually earlier today (Friday, October 22).

He said Northern Ireland has “a real issue of emissions without the ease of sequestration, which some other parts of the UK have.”

“If you take the Scots, for example, they do have a very important agriculture industry and mechanisms for sequestration which do not apply in Northern Ireland.

“We are, therefore, asking the Scots to get to net zero by 2045, the rest of the UK as far as England and Wales are concerned will be asked to reach net zero by 2050.

“We don’t believe the north of Ireland can actually do that,” he said.


“It has so much dependence on agriculture that to suggest you could do it would in fact, in our view, deny one of the central principles of the climate change committee.

“I’m not prepared to recommend things that I don’t think people can do,” he said.

The symposium also heard contributions from Northern Ireland economy minister, Gordon Lyons; chair of Infrastructure Bank UK, Chris Grigg; CBE and Irish environmental scientist, policy adviser and science communicator, Dr Tara Shine.

IoD NI chairman, Gordon Milligan said:

“As we approach the COP26 Climate Change Summit, taking place in Glasgow from the end of this month, attentions are rightly becoming more focused on sustainability and what we as a business community can do.

“It is clear from the comments by Lord Deben and contributions from our esteemed panel of guests that reaching net zero targets will be no easy task.

“However, as organisations become increasingly aware of their environmental responsibilities and businesses continue to develop new innovations, there is a huge opportunity to harness the potential of the green economic recovery.”