Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told business leaders in Belfast that addressing climate change will need joined up policies on the island of Ireland.

Mr Martin was speaking at an event at which big businesses came together to discuss how to cut carbon emissions.

The impact of climate change would be felt by everyone on the island, he said, and partnership would be needed to tackle it.

Just weeks ahead of the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, he told the event that offshore wind would be an area of big expansion in the years ahead.

Mr Martin said businesses were already pivoting to supply sustainable products demanded by customers.

"Now is the time to prepare for the changes that are under way," he said.

He added: "There is no more significant and common concern for us on this island, and across these islands, than meeting the generational challenge of climate change.

"So, to be fully effective on climate action, we need joined-up policy approaches and coordinated investment on a cross-border basis.

"It is significant that I am sharing this stage with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

"But it is also significant that they are here together - jointly - to address this important topic for the people of Northern Ireland and of the whole island.

"It is only through the good functioning of the Northern Ireland Executive that the challenges of climate change and Covid recovery can be met by and for the people of Northern Ireland."

The event was hosted by Chambers Ireland and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

They reiterated their commitment to climate legislation in Northern Ireland with tough but achievable targets.

Two competing climate bills are currently making their way through the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan said there has been evident changes in recent decades.

He said that the average temperature in Northern Ireland has risen by nearly 1% from the mid-70s to the mid-2010s.

"Climate change was not a concept that had much currency a century ago, but nevertheless it was real," he added.

"Rainfall in Northern Ireland has increased by over 6%, hard to believe in this part of the world you can get even more rain.

"This year we saw the highest temperatures on record on the season and the seas around us are rising and weather events, that once thought extreme, are increasingly common."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill stressed the importance of working on a cross-border basis, saying that climate does not recognise borders.

"The devastating impact of climate and how it unfolds is being felt right across the world," she said.

"I think that whenever you look at things like the increase in sea levels, the extreme weather, famine, disease, threat to food security, conflict, people being forced to flee their homes to take refuge, the evidence is very, very clear.

"There's no doubt that the issues that we face are political, they're economic and they are societal challenges."

Additional reporting PA