Details of a strengthened, more effective and more transparent Bill to help tackle climate change have today been set out by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.
Mr Benn said that the Government would amend its draft Climate Change Bill, following a three-month public consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary committees.
When originally published in March 2007, the draft Bill set out clear legally binding targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the UK by at least 60 per cent by 2050 and 26 to 32 per cent by 2020. This is to be based on a new system of “carbon budgets” set at least fifteen years ahead. It also proposed the creation of a new independent, expert Committee on Climate Change to advise on the best way to achieve these targets.
The changes to the draft Bill, set out in a Command Paper entitled ‘Taking Forward the UK Climate Change Bill’ published today, include:
As announced by the Prime Minister in September, asking the Committee on Climate Change to report on whether the Government’s target to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60 percent by 2050 should be strengthened further;
Asking the Committee to look at the implications of including other greenhouse gases and emissions from international aviation and shipping in the UK’s targets as part of this review;
Strengthening the role and responsibilities of the Committee on Climate Change, including by requiring the Government to seek the Committee’s advice before amending the 2020 or 2050 targets in the Bill;
Strengthening the Committee’s independence from Government, by confirming that it will appoint its own chief executive and staff, and increasing its analytical resources;
Increased transparency, by requiring the Committee to publish its analysis and advice to Government on setting five-yearly carbon budgets, which are designed to provide clarity on the UK’s route towards its reduction targets;
Strengthening Parliament’s ability to hold Government to account, by requiring the Government to explain its reasons to Parliament if it does not accept the Committee’s advice on the level of the carbon budget, or if it does not meet a budget or target;
Providing better information and streamlining reporting, including requiring the Government to report annually to Parliament on emissions from international aviation and shipping, in line with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and
Strengthening the country’s preparedness for climate change by requiring the Government regularly to assess the risks of climate change to the UK, and to report to Parliament on its proposals and policies for sustainable adaptation to climate change.
Mr Benn said:
“We need to step up the fight against climate change and we need to do it fast.
“The draft bill we set out earlier this year, and have now refined, is a ground breaking blueprint for moving the UK towards a low carbon economy.It will bind us to legally enforceable emissions reduction targets at home, while giving us greater clout at the international negotiating table.
“I am extremely grateful for the invaluable input from the three Parliamentary committees, and from industry and the wider public that has brought us to this point. Thanks to their efforts we will now have a Bill that is stronger, more effective and more transparent.
“In short, they have helped make a good Bill better.”
Mr Benn also confirmed that the Bill will be used to:
·Introduce the Carbon Reduction Commitment – a new cap and trade scheme for large organisations not already covered by other schemes;
·Help ensure that the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which is expected to deliver significant carbon savings from the road transport sector by increasing the use of biofuels, delivers environmental benefits; and
·Provide a power so that a number of local authorities who want to can pilotincentives for household waste minimisation and recycling.
Taken together it is estimated that these three policies could save the equivalent of up to 9.4 to 13.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2020.
The Government now plans to introduce a revised Bill to Parliament at the earliest possible legislative opportunity.
Notes to editors:
The Command Paper ‘Taking Forward the UK Climate Change Bill’ and summary of consultation responses can be accessed at www.defra.gov.uk.
The Command Paper responds to reports by three parliamentary committees: the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee in its Fifth Report, and the Environmental Audit Committee as part of its enquiry entitled Beyond Stern: From the Climate Change Programme Review to the Draft Climate Change Bill. It also responds to the nearly 17,000 responses to the public consultation on the draft Bill, which ran from 13 March to 12 June 2007.
Other key points of the draft Climate Change Bill, set out in March 2007 include:
A new system of legally binding five year “carbon budgets” , set at least 15 years ahead, to provide clarity on the UK’s optimum pathway towards its key targets and increase the confidence and certainty for business planning and investment in technology needed to move towards a low-carbon economy.
A new statutory body, the Committee on Climate Change, to provide independent expert advice and guidance to Government on achieving its targets and staying within its carbon budgets.
A new system of annual open and transparent reporting to Parliament. The Committee on Climate Change will provide an independent progress report to which the Government must respond. This will ensure the Government is held to account every year on its progress towards each five year carbon budget and the 2020 and 2050 targets.
A requirement for Government to report at least every five years on current and predicted impacts of climate change and on its proposals and policy for adapting to climate change.
DEFRA PR, 29th October 2007