One of Northern Ireland’s most important pieces of legislation was debated in the NI Assembly on Monday 10 May – our first Climate Change Bill. After seven hours, MLAs cast their vote… and the result was a win for nature (and all of us) with the Assembly voting in favour of progressing the Bill to the next stage!
Puffin on Rathlin Island by Hazel Watson (rspb-images.com)
None of this would have been possible without your help. Together, almost 1,000 of you sent over 4,000 emails to your local MLAs, urging them to vote in favour of the Bill and its ambition to reduce emissions in harmony with nature. That's amazing! And it made a significant difference to the outcome with many MLAs citing the messages they’d received from their constituents during the debate.
If you missed the debate, watch below for some highlights:
What’s next for the Climate Change Bill
The Climate Change Bill will now enter the Committee Stage, where members of the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee will scrutinise its clauses – this is the main content of the Bill. During this stage, recommendations will be made by the AERA Committee for clauses to be amended, removed or even added in.
RSPB NI’s Policy and Advocacy Team will be hard at work behind the scenes, providing evidence to the AERA Committee and making recommendations to strengthen the Bill for nature and ensure that restoring our natural habitats is central to emission-reduction plans. Restoration of habitats such as peatlands and native woodlands will not only help us capture harmful carbon, but it will also provide vital homes and food sources for our declining wildlife.
The Committee Stage can take several months to complete. Some predict we might have to wait until December or January before the Bill returns to the Assembly for its Consideration Stage debate which will include votes on any proposed changes to the Bill. Our recent blog gives a bite-sized breakdown of the law-making process if you want to learn more.
However, there’s still lots of work we can do during this time to make sure our MLAs don’t forget how important a Climate Change Bill that’s good for people and nature is for all of us. We have lots of exciting plans for our Revive Our World campaign coming this summer, but while you’re waiting, here’s a simple action you can take today.
Starling by Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
Send a ‘thank you’ note to your MLAs
MLAs have a duty to represent their constituents in the NI Assembly, but this is not always easy – especially if their constituency has many different points of view. If your MLA stood up for you (and nature) at the debate, why not thank them in a short message? This will show them that you not only appreciate them listening to your concerns, but that you are serious about wanting climate action and will be closely monitoring the Bill's progress.
Eighty-seven MLAs voted during the Climate Change Bill debate – 58 to 29 in favour. If you want to find out how your MLAs voted, click here. And if you’d like to send your MLAs a ‘thank you’ email, you can find their contact details here. This handy map can help you locate your MLAs.
If your MLA didn’t vote in favour of the Bill, you could use this opportunity to question their position on the Climate Change Bill. You might find the following points useful:
If you need more help in writing an email, please don’t hesitate to contact RSPB NI's Campaigns Team. And if you do send a message, please forward it or BCC us on it, as we’d love to know your thoughts as well. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, throughout history some of the biggest changes start with a small number of passionate people standing up for what they believe in. Together, we will Revive Our World.
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