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Climate Change and Energy are Key Issues for British-Irish Council Environment Ministers 6 February 2008

Last Friday (1st February) the British-Irish Council Environment Ministers met in Bangor, Northern Ireland, for the 8th time since the inaugural meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) in 1999. The main focus of this meeting was on climate change and energy.

Mr Roger Street, Technical Director of UK Climate Impacts Programme, (UKCIP) gave a presentation detailing the launch of a fifth generation set of climate change scenarios that will provide a more comprehensive package of climate information. The informative and accessible nature of the scenarios should allow users to assess more effectively the potential impacts of climate change and effective responses.

Dr Jeremy Tomkinson, CEO of The National Non-Food Crops Centre, also gave a presentation on renewable fuels that covered all renewable materials derived from crops and animals, for industrial use, for bio-energy and for transport.

Other presentations covered integrated coastal zone management and John Shimmin MHK, Minister for Local Government and the Environment, gave a presentation to the other Ministers on the “Fishing for Litter Initiative” that is being developed in the Island and in Scotland. The Initiative received unanimous support by all the Ministers in attendance who agreed to ask their relevant officials to look at developing Fishing for Litter initiatives within each of their Jurisdictions and to report back in 2010 to the Environment Ministers’ Meeting on developments.

Mr Shimmin also made a joint statement with John Gormley, Environment Minister for Ireland, informing the meeting that the Isle of Man and Ireland would be presenting a joint paper on our continuing concerns over Sellafield at the next Environment Ministers’ Meeting.

John Shimmin stated,

“Although a lot of important papers were discussed at the official meeting of the British-Irish Council I found the opportunity to meet, in private, with my ministerial colleagues from the other jurisdictions to talk about our mutual concerns about climate change and energy very useful and worthwhile”.

He added,

“I have been able to initiate a number of openings and agreements on information exchange that will help us tackle what I see as two of our greatest challenges over the next few years”.

At the end of what was regarded by Ministers as a very fruitful day they set out a new work programme for their officials with climate change and energy very much at the centre. However, Ministers stressed that they wished future meetings to continue the process of allowing them to meet together as a mechanism for facilitating information exchange and collaborative working between all the jurisdictions.

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