|Long title||An Act to set a target for the year 2050 for the reduction of targeted greenhouse gas emissions; to provide for a system of carbon budgeting; to establish a Committee on Climate Change; to confer powers to establish trading schemes for the purpose of limiting greenhouse gas emissions or encouraging activities that reduce such emissions or remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere; to make provision about adaptation to climate change; to confer powers to make schemes for providing financial incentives to produce less domestic waste and to recycle more of what is produced; to make provision about the collection of household waste; to confer powers to make provision about charging for single use carrier bags; to amend the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 about renewable transport fuel obligations; to make provision about carbon emissions reduction targets; to make other provision about climate change; and for connected purposes.|
|Citation||2008 c 27|
|Introduced by||Lord Rooker, Hilary Benn|
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom|
|Royal assent||26 November 2008|
|History of passage through Parliament|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
The Climate Change Act 2008 (c 27) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act makes it the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for all six Kyoto greenhouse gases for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline, toward avoiding dangerous climate change. The Act aims to enable the United Kingdom to become a low-carbon economy and gives ministers powers to introduce the measures necessary to achieve a range of greenhouse gas reduction targets. An independent Committee on Climate Change was created under the Act to provide advice to UK Government on these targets and related policies. In the act Secretary of State refers to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
Carbon emissions target
On 16 October 2008 Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced that the Act would mandate an 80% cut overall in six greenhouse gases by 2050.
When first published the Government proposed that the Act would set a target of a 60% cut, excluding international aviation and shipping, a figure that had been a Government ambition for some years. The original 60% figure was adopted based on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, made in their June 2000 report Energy - The Changing Environment. If adopted by other countries too, a 60% cut by 2050 was thought likely to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to no more than 550 parts per million which, it was generally thought at the time, would probably prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 2 °C (3.6 °F) and so avoid the most serious consequences of global warming. The Royal Commission went on to say that there should be an 80% cut by 2100, and that the 550 ppm upper limit should be 'kept under review'. They restated the importance of this in January 2006.
The Royal Commission's figures were based on a June 1996 decision of the EU Council of Ministers to limit emissions to 550 ppm, contained in their Community Strategy on Climate Change. This, in turn, was based on the 1995 IPCC Second Assessment Report, which first mentioned the 550 ppm - 2 °C connection.
A scientific assessment at the 2005 international Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change conference, held in Exeter under the UK presidency of the G8, concluded that at the level of 550 ppm it was likely that 2 °C would be exceeded, based on the projections of more recent climate models. Stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at 450 ppm would only result in a 50% likelihood of limiting global warming to 2 °C, and that it would be necessary to achieve stabilisation below 400 ppm to give a relatively high certainty of not exceeding 2 °C.
Based on the current rate of increase - averaging about 2 ppm per year - greenhouse gas concentrations are likely to reach 400 ppm by 2016, 450 ppm by 2041, and 550 ppm by around 2091. It is because of this that environmental organisations and some political parties criticised the 60% target as being insufficiently ambitious, and why they demanded greater cuts (80%-100%), as mentioned below. The exclusion of emissions from aviation and shipping, combined with forecasts for growth in these areas, also means that the net effect of the bill would actually have only been a 35-50% total cut on 1990 levels by 2050.
The procedure for enacting legislation in the United Kingdom Parliament sometimes involves numerous consultative and debating stages.
The 2008 Climate Change Bill was preceded by a Private member's bill of the same name drafted by Friends of the Earth and brought before Parliament on 7 April 2005. Although it received widespread support the Bill was unable to make progress as Parliament was dissolved ahead of the 2005 general election.
Early Day Motion
Shortly after the 2005 general election, 412 of the 646 Members of Parliament signed an early day motion calling for a Climate Change Bill to be introduced, to include a requirement for 3% annual cuts in carbon emissions. Only three other early day motions had ever been signed by more than 400 MPs.
The Labour Government announced the introduction of a Climate Change Bill in the Queen's speech, on 15 November 2006. The draft Bill was published on 13 March 2007, but proposed five-year 'carbon budgets' rather than the annual targets many had called for. The Government believe that varying weather conditions make annual targets impractical.
The draft Bill was scrutinised by three parliamentary committees. A Joint Select Committee of 24 members from the House of Lords and the House of Commons, chaired by Lord Puttnam, was immediately established to scrutinize the Bill. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons also carried out its own inquiry into the draft Bill, as did the Environmental Audit Committee. These Committees received evidence from a series of interested parties between April and July and cast votes on the final wording of their reports.
Among the critics giving evidence was Lord Lawson who argued that the entire concept was counter-productive because humans would easily be able to adapt to the worst predictions of a 4-degree rise in temperature by the end of the century because, with an average world economic growth of 2%, they would be "seven times as well off as we are today", therefore it was not reasonable to impose a sacrifice on the "much poorer present generation".
The Government response to the report was printed in October 2007.
The Bill was introduced to the House of Lords by the Government on 14 November 2007. The first debate on the floor of the House (Second Reading) was held on 27 November 2007 and lasted six hours. This was followed by eight sittings in the Committee Stage, four further sittings at Report Stage and one more for Third Reading. All of these sittings (including Committee stage) took place on the floor of the House and ten votes for various amendments.
One of the votes rejected a proposal by a majority of 148 to 51 to change the target for 2050 from 60% to 80% below baseline 1990 emissions on the basis that they should wait for new scientific advice from the Committee on Climate Change before changing the target from 60%.
An amendment, to remove the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change's absolute duty to ensure that the 2050 target was met, and replace it with a duty to propose policies to meet the target, was narrowly defeated by 132 votes to 130 in the Third Reading in the House of Lords on 31 March 2008. The bill passed to the House of Commons.
On 9 June 2008, following the Second Reading of the Bill, only five members of the House of Commons voted against. The five were Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Peter Lilley, Andrew Tyrie, and Ann Widdecombe.
During the debate on the Third Reading on 28 October, the government rejected an opposition amendment to allow the Secretary of State to set the maximum level of carbon dioxide that may be emitted per unit of output by any generating station. After the Committee on Climate Change's advice on the level of the 2050 target was brought forward, the 2050 target was revised from 60% of 1990 carbon dioxide emissions to 80% of the six major greenhouse gas emissions at the instigation of the government. It was also agreed that the British share of aviation and shipping emissions would form part of the target, when a method of measuring these could be agreed.
The bill passed into law on 26 November 2008.
The opposition Conservative Party supported the concept of a bill, and proposed their own variation ahead of the Government's. One of the key differences is that they were demanding annual carbon targets, and that the Committee on Climate Change should have an enhanced role, setting targets as well as advising governments.
The Liberal Democrats took a similar stance to the Conservatives, and were also of the opinion that setting targets every five years would be an abdication of responsibility, because a government typically remains in power for only four years. They also stated that the proposed 60% cut by 2050 may not be sufficient, and that "we may well need to aim more towards about 80%".
A stronger response was provided by the Green Party of England and Wales. They considered that legislation provides a 'massive opportunity', but that the draft Bill was 'dangerously unambitious'. Among their demands were annual targets and an overall emission cut of 90% by 2050. Respect - The Unity Coalition were also in favour of a 90% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, but did not express a view on the bill.
Among the nationalist political parties whose views were known, the concept of a Climate Change Bill was supported in principle by the Scottish National Party and the Democratic Unionist Party. Welsh Plaid Cymru proposed 3% year-on-year carbon cuts for Wales in their policy statements.
The UK Independence Party believed that the Bill was only necessary because of a failure to devise a viable plan for other sources of energy to replace fossil fuels. They considered that the Bill was 'deeply misguided', likely to cripple the economy and that it would destroy investment in alternative technologies. Instead they believed that the Government and Opposition 'need to be looking into proper alternatives like nuclear power', and that plans to invest in renewable alternative energies such as wind power and solar power, as well as cutting carbon emissions by 60%, were 'unachievable and unnecessary'.
Friends of the Earth's Big Ask Campaign was one of the factors that influenced the government to include the Climate Change Bill in their legislative programme. The organisation demanded that the Bill should include legally binding targets for a reduction of at least 3% a year, amounting a total cut of around 80% by 2050. They considered that a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 was not a sufficient contribution from developed countries to the international action on climate change.
The UK arm of WWF supported the Bill, but launched its Get on Board campaign for the 2050 carbon reduction target to be raised to at least 80%, including the UK share of emissions from international aviation & shipping. In addition, WWF-UK called for retention of the House of Lords' amendment that at least 70% of the UK's reduction should be achieved domestically (limiting to 30% the proportion of the reduction that can be achieved through purchasing 'carbon credits').
The other 50 or so environmental, international development and other organisations belonging to the Stop Climate Chaos coalition backed the Big Ask Campaign and shared similar views. The coalition itself criticised the Government for failing to acknowledge the 'global warming danger threshold' of 2 °C. Taking this into account, they believed that the 2020 target should be a minimum of 30%, with an 80% target for 2050. They also considered that the Bill should include annual 3% reduction targets, cover aviation and shipping within its scope, and ban the purchase of carbon credits from overseas, a practice which they believe exports the emissions problem elsewhere.
The Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist, Methodist, and United Reformed churches called for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions [by 2050], for not ignoring the contribution of air and sea travel, and for reductions of the United Kingdom's own emissions rather than relying on buying carbon credits from other countries.
Trade unions and businesses
The Confederation of British Industry, which has created its own climate change task force, welcomed the proposed Bill, stating that it combined two vital elements, long-term clarity on policy direction and flexibility in its delivery.
Committee on Climate Change
The Committee on Climate Change, whose powers are invested by Part 2 of the Act, was formally launched in December 2008 with Lord Adair Turner as its chair. There is also an Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC), which sets the direction for adaptation matters including independent advice on preparing for climate change. The ASC is made up of experts from all fields of climate change, science and economics and is currently chaired by Baroness Brown of Cambridge.
As required by this legislation, the UK Government has produced several reports, some of which are set to be updated at regular intervals. These reports include:
- Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), first report published in 2012, second report published in 2017, and the third report was published in 2022.
- National Adaptation Programme (NAP), first report published in 2013, the second in July 2018. Publication of the third National Adaptation Programme is anticipated in 2023.
- Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP), first comprehensive set of reports published in 2011 (from over 100 key organisations), second round of reports have started to be published in autumn of 2015. Planning for the third round of reports has started, with a consultation document published in June 2018 and a list of organisations has been published in a policy paper on 21 December 2018.
The above reports and outputs were supported by the UK Climate Impacts Programme (now known as UKCIP), and also the UKCP09 projections. From late 2018, these projections have been superseded by UKCP18 projections.
- Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006 (United Kingdom)
- Climate change in the United Kingdom
- Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
- The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 101 of this Act.
- "Climate Change [HL] Bill - 2007-08". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Royal Commission calls for transformation in the UK's use of energy". Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. 16 June 2000. Archived from the original on 3 January 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "Royal Commission report: 'Energy - The Changing Environment' chapters 10 & 4". Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. 16 June 2000. Archived from the original on 20 February 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "Government needs to keep carbon dioxide target under review to avoid dangerous climate change". The Royal Society. 30 January 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2007.
- "Community Strategy on Climate Change - Council Conclusions". Council of the European Union. 22 June 1996. Archived from the original on 28 January 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "Climate Stabilisation Conference - Exeter 2005". Government News Network. 4 November 2004. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "International Symposium on the Stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations - Report of the International Scientific Steering Committee". Met Office. 10 May 2005. Archived from the original on 18 March 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
- "Select Committee on Environmental Audit Third Report". House of Commons. Retrieved 20 April 2007.
- "Climate Change Act". Committee on Climate Change. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009.
- A sip of the bubbly (but hold the cigar for a couple of weeks) Archived 1 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine, 30 October 2008, WWF-UK
- "2005 Climate Change Bill". United Kingdom Parliament. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- "Failed 2005 Climate Change Bill". ePolitix.com. 14 March 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "Early day motion 178 - Climate Change". Michael Meacher, MP. 24 May 2005. Archived from the original on 13 January 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "October update on the Climate Change Bill". South Hams Friends of the Earth. 12 June 2006. Archived from the original on 24 March 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- Sturcke, James (15 November 2006). "Climate change bill to balance environmental and energy concerns". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- Tempest, Matthew (13 March 2007). "Climate change bill is revolutionary, says Blair". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill - official website". Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill First Report - FORMAL MINUTES". 24 July 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill - First Report". 24 July 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Examination of Witnesses (Questions 32-39)". 16 May 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Taking Forward the UK Climate Change Bill: The Government Response to Pre-Legislative Scrutiny and Public Consultation - Command Paper 7225" (PDF). October 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Climate Change [HL] Bill - 2007-08". Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Climate Change Bill [HL] - Second Reading Debate". 27 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
- "Climate Change Bill - Committee of Commission". Publicwhip. 14 January 2008.
- "Policy votes - Climate Change Bill". Publicwhip.
- "Climate Change Bill = Target for 2050 is 60%". 25 February 2008.
- "Lords Hansard Text for 31 March 2008". Parliament.
- Charles Moore, "To win the battle for the consumer, Cameron must cut taxes soon", The Daily Telegraph, 28 September 2013.
- "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 October 2008". Parliament.
- "MPs support tough bill on CO2 reporting". Financial Times. 29 October 2008.
- "Climate Change Bill [HL] 2007-08". Parliament. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007.
- "Can I have the Bill please?". Conservative Party. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- Churcher, Joe (13 March 2007). "Ministers to unveil climate change bill". London: Independent Online Edition. Archived from the original on 15 March 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- "Key elements missing from draft Climate Change Bill". Conservative Party. 13 March 2007. Archived from the original on 17 June 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- "Chris Huhne: We must monitor carbon targets annually". London: Independent Online Edition. 13 March 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- "'Binding' carbon targets proposed". BBC. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- "Climate Change Bill 'dangerously unambitious'". Green Party of England and Wales. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "Respect Environment Policy – March 2005". Respect - The Unity Coalition. March 2005. Archived from the original on 14 February 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "SNP joins cross-party force on Climate Change". Scottish National Party. 26 January 2006. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "DUP Manifesto 2007, page 57" (PDF). Democratic Unionist Party. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "7 for '07 – Saving Wales: the Energy Plan". Plaid Cymru. 5 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 May 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "Cut Carbon? Go Nuclear". United Kingdom Independence Party. 13 March 2007. Archived from the original on 22 March 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "UK planning law on climate change". BBC. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- "Draft climate bill published". Friends of the Earth. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- "Climate Change Bill - What needs strengthening". WWF-UK. 4 June 2008. Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2008.
- "I Count Campaign know Government can do better". Stop Climate Chaos. 13 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- Joint Public Issues Team of the churches: briefing on the Climate Change Bill (December 2007) Archived 19 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Climate Change Bill strikes right balance". Confederation of British Industry. 13 March 2007. Archived from the original on 13 May 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "TUC comment on climate change bill". Trades Union Congress. 13 March 2007. Archived from the original on 18 March 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "UK Climate Change Risk Assessment: Government Report". UK Government. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017" (PDF). UK Government. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
- "UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022". Committee on Climate Change. 17 January 2022. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
- "Adapting to climate change: National Adaptation Programme". UK Government. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "Climate change: second national adaptation programme (2018 to 2023)". Retrieved 5 January 2019.
- Gardiner, A., Deepening our understanding of summertime overheating in homes, Climate Change Committee Secretariat, published 4 October 2022, accessed 11 November 2022
- "Adaptation Reporting Power: received reports". UK Government. 12 May 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "Climate change adaptation reporting: second round reports". UK Government. 13 August 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- "Climate change adaptation reporting power: plans for the third round". UK Government. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- "List of organisations reporting under adaptation reporting power: third round". UK Government. 21 December 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- "UK Climate Impacts Programme". UKCIP, University of Oxford. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "UK Climate Projections (UKCP)". Met Office, Defra, UK Government. 2009. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18)". Met Office, Defra, UK Government. 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- Text of the Climate Change Act 2008 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.
- Explanatory notes to the Climate Change Act 2008.
- Climate Change Act implementation guidance for businesses on NetRegs.gov.uk
- Full text of the earlier Draft Bill
- DEFRA Draft Climate Change Bill public consultation
- ePolitix.com Q&A: Climate Change Bill
- Big Ask Campaign
- Get on Board, WWF-UK Climate Change Campaign
- Britain Publishes Climate Change Bill.
- Government launch video (YouTube)
- England's Climate & Energy Politics
- Climate Change Strategy.
- 10 April 2008, Internet Public Library: Painless Carbon Reduction by 80%
- 3 August 2007, BBC: MPs & peers urge tougher carbon law
- 14 March 2007, Independent Online: A Bill which makes reducing carbon emissions a legal duty
- 23 February 2007, Times Online: Miliband mocked by his critics as climate Bill is downgraded
- 15 November 2006, Guardian Unlimited: Miliband denies cabinet split over climate bill
- 13 October 2006, Politics.co.uk: Ministers 'looking carefully' at possible climate change bill
- 1 February 2006, Euractive: UK chief scientific adviser: Keeping CO2 concentration below 450ppm is 'unfeasible'