Climate Change Act

A unilateral statutory commitment to 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050

The Climate Change Act was passed on 26th November 2008 and includes the following provisions:

  • 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.

In passing the Act, the UK became the first country to commit to a unilateral target for reduction of greenhouse gases that is line with the expert opinion on what is needed to avoid irreversible global warming. the Act is implemented through a series of Carbon Budgets which in turn drive legislation to change behaviour in support of the targets adopted by government; CRC and ESOS are two such examples.

More recently the UK has signed the Paris Agreement on climate change which was ratified at COP22 in Marrakech. The Paris Agreement provides a framework for governments as well as business and investors to keep global warming well below 2°C, pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This can be expected to drive increasingly ambitious carbon reduction targets for business.

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