UK climate bill aims to cut emissions by 60 per cent

Posted: 29 October 2007

The UK government has published its promised draft Climate Change Bill, the first of its kind in any country, following growing pressure from the environmental lobby. The bill sets out a framework for moving the UK to a low-carbon economy, with a target of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent, by 2050.

It follows growing cross-party pressure, led by environmental groups, for a such a climate bill amid evidence that Britain's C02 emissions have grown under the present Labour government.

The bill sets out a series of targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions - including making the UK's targets for 60 per cent reduction by 2050 and 26 to 32 per cent reduction by 2020 legally binding. A new system of legally binding five year "carbon budgets", set at least 15 years ahead, aims to provide clarity on the UK's pathway towards its key targets and increase the certainty that businesses and individuals need to invest in low-carbon technologies.

A new statutory body, the Committee on Climate Change, will provide independent expert advice and guidance to Government on achieving its targets and staying within its carbon budgets. The environment minister, David Milliband, said the new powers will enable the Government to more easily implement policies to cut emissions.

The bill also sets out a new system of annual reporting to Parliament. The Committee on Climate Change will provide a progress report to which the Government must respond. The idea is to ensure the Government is held to account every year on its progress towards each five year carbon budget and the 2020 and 2050 targets. The Government is required to report at least every five years on current and predicted impacts of climate change and on its proposals and policy for adapting to it.

"With climate change we can't just close our eyes and cross our fingers<" Mr Milliban said. "We need to step up our action to tackle it...and time isn't on our side."

Not enough

David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, at WWF-UK, said: "The Government should be applauded for introducing the Climate Change Bill - a groundbreaking political initiative which could, if we get it right, set a shining example for the rest of the world to follow.

"All the science - including the Government's own assessments - tell us that to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change we must cutemissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050. If the UK and other developed nations reduce their emissions by 60 per cent - rather than the 80 per cent we need - the world still faces a high likelihood of warming of around four degrees C, which would have disastrous impacts for people and wildlife." WWF is also calling on the Government to include emissions from international aviation and shipping in the Bill.