State of the Environment

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Northern Ireland

Friends of the Earth has analysed data on how different local authority areas are performing on the actions needed to address the climate emergency but unfortunately there is much less data collected by local authority areas in Northern Ireland.

However, our Northern Ireland team has produced a 40-point plan for actions that councils can take to address the climate emergency.

The team has also produced a Climate Action Plan for Northern Ireland which has five priorities.


The priorities in our Climate Action Plan are:

Empower communities to lead the recovery by using participatory decision-making processes, making sure those most impacted by environmental harm are listened to, and with legal changes so that communities can hold the Northern Ireland government to account. We need a democratic revival.

Introduce a Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. Alongside the promised Climate Change Act, such legislation will ensure that the voices of young people and consideration of the wellbeing of future generations are considered properly in decision-making. A similar act has been successfully pioneered by Wales.

Follow the lead of New Zealand, and instead of measuring progress and shaping economic policy towards GDP growth, develop and use a Living Standards Framework. Gross Domestic Product is a poor measure of progress because it can increase while the environment is degraded and people’s wellbeing declines. The economy and fiscal measures should be judged on how well they increase wellbeing.

Power Northern Ireland with renewable electricity. Our homes can be heated using renewable electricity and heat pumps, nearly all transport can be electric, and electricity can power much of business. Currently, the Executive is wedded to the concept of natural gas as a bridging fuel to a low-carbon energy sector. But Northern Ireland doesn’t need a future dominated by fossil fuels. It already produces a higher proportion of its electricity from renewable energy than England and Wales. Oil- and gas-central heating should be phased out by 2030.

Reverse the decline in nature, to include a Just Transition plan for farmers to halve livestock production by 2030, a moratorium on industrial farming, and diversification to make farming nature friendly. This should involve restoring peatland and ensuring family farmers get rewarded for nature-friendly farming and funded to diversify, including into tree planting and timber production. And rejecting intensive livestock production, which too often relies on imported animal feed from areas of rainforest deforestation or harms nature sites through pollution.

This report is brought to you by the Environmental Data Team at Friends of the Earth. An earlier “alpha” version of the report was sent out in December 2023 in PDF format. 

This version, as well as being digitised, includes new data sets and a fresh approach to highlighting our sources.