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Northern Ireland environment minister bans climate change ads

A congestion charge pay reminder sign is seen in London in this file photo. Fear of climate change and the need to find green alternatives are fuelling an embryonic movement in Europe to build 'smart cities'. (REUTERS)

Northern Ireland's environment minister came under fire Monday after he banned a climate change ad campaign, saying it was "nonsense" to suggest people could save the world by turning off their lights.

Sammy Wilson, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party which shares power with Sinn Fein in the British-ruled province, believes mankind is not to blame for global warming.

He refused to allow an advertising campaign produced in London, which urges people to use less energy in the home, to be broadcast in Northern Ireland, saying it was simply "propaganda".

He argued the ads gave people "the impression that by turning off the standby light on their TV they could save the world from melting glaciers and being submerged in 40 feet of water", according to the BBC.

"That is patent nonsense," Wilson added.

The Green party's representative in the Northern Ireland assembly, Brian Wilson, accused the minister of being "grossly irresponsible", while the Friends of the Earth environmental pressure group called on him to resign.

"We urgently need someone in post that will take this job seriously," said Friends of the Earth's John Woods.

Roy Beggs, a member of the Ulster Unionist Party, said Wilson's views "are out of kilter with mainstream political opinion and more importantly the overwhelming consensus view of climate scientists throughout the world".

Wilson told the BBC that he had offered to work with officials in London to create a new advert, but said they insisted on issuing "New Labour propaganda", a reference to the ruling Labour party of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

DUP leader and Northern Ireland's first minister, Peter Robinson, said Wilson's comments were personal and did not reflect party policy.