The UK Climate Change Bill: Introduction from Defra

Introduction

The UK Government is committed to addressing both the causes and consequences of climate change and has published its proposals for a Climate Change Bill. We are consulting widely – with a closing date for comments of 12 June 2007.

Our objective is to ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to contribute their opinions at an early stage of policy development. We are asking important questions about the shape of our policy proposals and what issues we should take into account, when developing the Climate Change Bill.

Comment on the draft Bill

Other documents

Several other documents have been published alongside the draft Bill as follows:

Background

The debate on climate change has shifted from whether we need to act to how much we need to do by when, and the economic implications of doing so. The time is therefore right for the introduction of a strong legal framework in the UK for tackling climate change. The draft Climate Change Bill is the first of its kind in any country.

The proposed Bill provides a clear, credible, long-term framework for the UK to achieve its goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and will ensure that steps are taken towards adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Key provisions of the Bill

Targets

  • This Bill puts into statute the UK’s targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through domestic and international action by 60% by 2050 and 26-32% by 2020, against a 1990 baseline.
  • Five-year carbon budgets, which will require the Government to set, in secondary legislation, binding limits on carbon dioxide emissions during five year budget periods, beginning with the period 2008-12. Three successive carbon budgets (representing 15 years) will always be in legislation.
  • Emission reductions purchased overseas may be counted towards the UK’s targets, consistent with the UK’s international obligations. This ensures emission reductions can be achieved in the most cost effective way, recognising the potential for investing in low carbon technologies abroad as well as action within the UK to reduce the UK’s overall carbon footprint.

Committee on Climate Change

  • A Committee on Climate Change will be set up as an independent statutory body to advise the Government on the pathway to the 2050 target and to advise specifically on: the level of carbon budgets; reduction effort needed by sectors of the economy covered by trading schemes, and other sectors; and on the optimum balance between domestic action and international trading in carbon allowances.
  • It will take into account a range of factors including environmental, technological, economic, fiscal, social and international factors, as well as energy policy, when giving its advice.

Enabling Powers

  • The Bill contains enabling powers to introduce new trading schemes through secondary legislation. This increases the policy options which Government could use to stay within budgets and meet emissions targets.

Reporting requirements

  • The Committee on Climate Change will have a specific role in reporting annually to Parliament on the UK’s progress towards achieving its targets and budgets. The Government will be required to lay before Parliament a response to this annual progress report.
  • Every five years, the Committee’s report will contain an explicit review of the UK’s performance over the last budget period, and the implications of this for keeping on track to meet future targets and budgets.

Reporting Progress on Adaptation

  • The Bill will also allow Parliament to monitor the Government’s proposals and policies for integrating adaptation to climate change into its work by establishing regular reporting to Parliament.

Consultation

It is right that It is right that the public, Parliament and a wide range of interested organisations have an opportunity to discuss and debate these proposals – as climate change is an issue which affects us all and this Bill is intended to create a framework that lasts for more than a generation. The Government therefore looks forward to receiving a wide range of views on its proposals.

The consultation document discusses the context and rationale behind the draft Climate Change Bill and sets out the main reasons why the UK Government considers legislation in this area is required. It outlines the background to and the proposed contents of the draft Bill, summarising its key elements and how they are expected to fit together.

Regulatory Impact Assessment

As part of this consultation a partial Regulatory Impact Assessment has been produced and provides initial assessments on the impact of the proposals in the draft Bill.

Strategy

The strategy document, published alongside the Bill, sets out the broader context for the Bill. It highlights some key announcements coming up in the next few weeks and months. And it gives the broader international context, where the UK will continue to press for action through the EU, the G8 and the UN.

Related information

Key material