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Last edited 18 Jan 2018
Climate Change Act
The Act is very wide-ranging. It sets legally-binding targets, creates new powers, changes the institutional framework, establishes systems to ensure accountability and addresses resilience to climate change.
The key provision is the creation of a legally binding commitment to cut emissions of greenhouse gasses by at least 34% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. The Act also requires the Government to publish carbon budgets setting five-yearly caps on greenhouse gas emissions.
Other specific measures include:
- The establishment of the Committee on Climate Change to advise Government and report annually to Parliament.
- The preparation of a Low Carbon Transition Plan to report policies and proposals to Parliament.
- Special measures relating to the introduction of domestic emissions trading schemes.
- Amendments to the Energy Act in relation to renewable transport fuels (biofuels), see Schedule 7 of the Act.
- The power to introduce pilot finance incentive schemes for household waste.
- Powers relating to charges for single use carrier bags.
- Policies in relation to corporate reporting of emissions (see The contribution that reporting of greenhouse gas emissions makes to the UK meeting its climate change objectives)
- A requirement to publish an annual State of the Estate report the efficiency and sustainability of the Government's civil estate.
- The establishment of the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) as to advise the Committee on Climate Change in relation to climate risks.
- A requirement to carry out a Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every 5 years.
- A requirement to prepare a National Adaptation Programme to address the risks identified in the CCRA (to be reviewed every five years).
- The power to require public authorities and statutory undertakers to report on how they have assessed the risks of climate change, and what they are doing to address those risks.
There are concerns about the cost of achieving the targets set out by the Act, and whether, if the targets become unachievable, the Act will simply be scrapped. There have already been some calls to repeal the Act, but after a review of all legislation with a view to cutting red tape, the Government appears to have confirmed its commitment to the Climate Change Act.
There is some suggestion that at present, carbon emissions are not falling fast enough and that this will be exacerbated by continuing population growth in the UK. In 2012, the CCC suggested that the pace of measures to reduce emissions needs to increase fourfold if the Climate Change Act commitments are to be met (see Meeting the Carbon Budgets - 2012 Progress Report to Parliament).
NB The Act requires a decision by 31 December 2012 as to whether aviation and shipping emissions should be included in the overall commitment to cut emissions of greenhouse gasses. If they are included, this may result in the need for greater reductions in emissions from other sectors.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Carbon plan.
- Climate change science.
- Climate Change Levy.
- COP21 Paris 2015.
- CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.
- Energy Act.
- Emission rates.
- Energy related products regulations.
- Energy targets.
- Environmental policy.
- Green deal.
- Greenhouse gases.
- Happold lecture on climate change.
- Kyoto protocol.
- Sustainable development.
- Sustainable materials.
- The Carbon Plan: Delivering our low carbon future.
- The Low Carbon Transition Plan: National strategy for climate and energy.
- UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.
- Whole life costs.
- Zero carbon homes.
- Zero carbon non-domestic buildings.
 External references
- The Act in full.
- Department of Energy & Climate Change: Climate change act 2008.
- Department of Energy & Climate Change.
- CCC: Building a low-carbon economy.
- Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
- DEFRA: Climate science and research.
- DEFRA: Adapting to climate change.
- DEFRA: Advice for infrastructure companies.
- The Edge Debate: The Politics of Carbon Emissions Data.
- Cabinet office: State of the Estate 2011. Published in May 2012.
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