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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

The Case for a Zero Carbon Society

The government wants to get our emissions down to from 10 to 4 tonnes
of CO2 per person per year. But 4 tonnes CO2 per person per year is
the CURRENT global average of CO2 from fossil fuel alone…

Where the UK hopes to be in 2050, even if adopted by everyone, would
not reduce global emissions (and certainly not get them to a safe
level).

To keep global warming below 2 degrees, We need 1 tonne per person per
year (by 2030 if possible, but certainly before 2050). (See “how much
CO2 can we emit” attachment)

Anything above 2 degrees and we hit tipping points and we have a mass
extinction event (of plants, animals and the poor). (See “Six degrees
“attachment).

*We need a national campaign for 1 tonne per person per year, a 90% reduction on 1990 levels.

This can be achieved while maintaining a healthy and vibrant low-carbon economy.

China pollution fuelled by heavy industry

China pollution fuelled by heavy industry
By Richard McGregor in Beijing

China’s rapidly worsening pollution is being driven by a surge in
investment in energy-intensive heavy industry caused by cut-throat
competition among cities and provinces, according to a study released
Tuesday.
The study, by the Peterson Institute for International Economics in
Washington, says the huge investment in steel, aluminium, cement and
other plant has begun to reverse almost three decades of gains in
energy efficiency.

“It is not air-conditioners and automobiles that are driving China’s
energy demand but rather heavy industry,” say Daniel Rosen and Trevor
Houser of China Strategic Advisory, the authors. “Consumption-led
demand is China’s future energy challenge.”
China’s huge growth has made its economy a global issue because of
rising exports of steel, in particular, and the impact on
inter=ADnational markets for related commodities.
Greenhouse gases are also under scrutiny; the Inter=ADnational Energy
Agency predicts China could surpass the US as early as this year as
the largest emitter of CO2, a figure Beijing disputes.
Chinese leaders have set tough new targets to reduce the use of energy
per unit of economic output by 20 per cent and pollution by 10 per
cent, between 2006 and 2010. But the rise of heavy industry, which the
study says caught even Beijing by surprise, means China failed to meet
the benchmarks in 2006 and will find it hard to do so by the end of
the decade.
China now accounts for almost half of the world’s flat glass and
cement production, more than a third of steel output and 28 per cent
of aluminium. Heavy industry consumes 54 per cent of China’s energy,
up from 39 per cent five years ago.
A structural bias towards heavy industry, which dominated in the
centrally planned Maoist-era economy, means energy intensity has
worsened even though Chinese steel plants have become more efficient.
“A new steel plant, no matter how much more efficient than its peers,
uses substantially more energy than a garment factory,” the study
says.
The study blames the growth of heavy industry on cut-throat internal
competition. “The rules of competition are set not just by Beijing but
also by local interests, including state-owned heavy industrial
enterprises,” it says. “And regardless of who sets the rules, the
reality of how they are implemented is almost entirely a local
matter.”
The National Reform and Development Commission, the economic planning
agency also responsible for energy, has tried for years to curb
industrial expansion.
Although nominally all-powerful and with the right to stop projects
over a certain size on a range of grounds, the commission has been
largely helpless to stop the flood of new investment.
The commission’s power is not reflected in the size or skill of its
staff or in the research base and industry expertise from which it
operates. Its energy bureau has 100 staff and the State Energy Office
under the cabinet 30-40, in contrast to 110,000 at the US Department
of Energy.
Individual state companies are better equipped than the ministries.
The State Grid, which is responsible for power transmission, has more
research staff than the commission’s energy bureau.
Weak regulation also makes it difficult to cut pollution and
greenhouse gas emissions. Fewer than 15 per cent of coal-fired plants,
which generate 80 per cent of China’s electricity, have systems to
remove sulphur dioxide from emissions, and even fewer use them, the
report says. Most new plants have sulphur scrubbers.
The authors say that China will not make unilateral adjustments in the
absence of changes to US policy. “China is an 800lb gorilla on the
world energy stage that cannot be ignored, but there is a 1,600lb
gorilla in this room too: the US,” they said.