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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Belfast Council divided over £10,000 spend on climate conference sponsorship

Belfast councillors have narrowly voted to spend £10,000 sponsoring a business climate conference in the city.

City Hall was split down the middle over a proposal to spend the money funding the Net Zero Faster event which will host up to 300 business leaders this Thursday (October 27th).

At the council ’s recent Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, elected members agreed to pay the money, after a knife edge vote saw a People Before Profit proposal to not foot the £10,000 bill fail.

Read more: Belfast Council agrees fuel poverty fund for 5,000 families in city

Nine councillors from the DUP and Alliance voted to pay the £10,000, while eight from Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Green Party, and People Before Profit voted against the payment.

Council officials recommended that the committee approve the funding contribution to the Management and Leadership Network who will host the prominent climate business conference, called “Sustain Exchange”. The money will be allocated from the council’s climate unit budget.

The total cost of the conference will be in excess of £60,000. Other confirmed corporate sponsorship for the event will come from Danske bank and Mills Selig. The event will be hosted at Titanic Belfast.

People Before Profit councillor Fiona Ferguson told the chamber at City Hall: “I’m not entirely sure it is necessary for the council to sponsor this event. It is incredibly worthwhile, and I strongly encourage the council to go along and speak at this event to talk about the environmental initiatives we have been involved in, and use that platform.

“But to pay £10,000 for the pleasure to have our logo on something, at a time when we are talking about having to hike rates, and talking about how we can scrimp in reserves, isn’t a fiscally responsible decision at this point.”

A council report states: “The conference is an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the activity that is already underway in Belfast. As the host city it positions Belfast as a centre of excellence and activity when it comes to businesses and getting to net zero faster.

“The climate challenge will inevitably move further up the political and business agenda as we move through the decade and the pace of change on this issue is fast, so there is a need for annual event for the NI business/leadership community to share knowledge, experience and progress and supporting platforms available all year round to share resources.”

It adds: “The event will put the challenges, opportunities and absolute need for positive action associated with climate change, on the agenda for local organisations and leaders.

“It is expected to attract some 300 local leaders (primarily business leaders, but also those from the public, from non departmental public bodies and third sectors) and will either be delivered as an in-person only event or a hybrid event which would see 120 leaders gather in-person with some additional 200 leaders attending the event via a live stream.

“Both delivery models will ensure the messages, around the importance of positive climate action, have reached and that partners get a level of profile, amongst the NI business / leadership community, to justify their investment.”


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