Market News

 March 13, 2007
UK proposes 'revolutionary' climate bill

 London, UK -- The government of Great Britain has proposed a climate change bill that would set legally binding targets to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2050, with a mandatory 26 to 32 percent reduction by 2020.

The draft Climate Change Bill, described by Prime Minister Tony Blair as a 'revolutionary step', would include binding targets for each five year period, allowing for fluctuations in annual emissions. The system of five-year "carbon budgets" would set targets at least 15 years ahead.

Environmental groups and opposition parties welcomed the bill but called for binding annual targets as well. The Bill, which could become law within a year, also plans for a Committee on Climate Change to provide expert advice and guidance on achieving targets and staying within carbon budgets.

A strategy paper (PDF) released alongside the Bill sets out how it fits into the UK's wider international strategy, as well as detailing a range of future domestic policies to achieve its aims.

"The scientific case for action on climate change is unambiguous", says the government, noting of the potentially costly consequences of temperature increases, as outlined in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. All sectors will have to contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy, but practical solutions and technologies exist so that action does not require a reduction in standards of living, says the strategy paper.

The first policy for reducing emissions is to put a price on carbon, says the paper, either through emissions trading, taxation, or regulation. Along with carbon pricing, development of new technologies and removal of barriers to behavioural change "should drive investment towards a low-carbon economy", it adds.

According to the government, it faces two strategic challenges: to mobilise support for an international climate change agreement, and to minimise the costs and maximize the benefits of moving to a low carbon domestic economy.

In order to achieve each of these goals, the UK will release a series of policies in the upcoming year to promote 'zero carbon homes', 'low-carbon fossil fuel power', low emissions vehicles, and clean energy. A global strategy to follow the Kyoto Protocol must be developed before 2012, urges the government, saying that the international framework must include a long-term goal, a global price for carbon, energy efficiency improvements, and measures to reduce deforestation and adapt to unavoidable climate change.

The strategy paper recognizes the world's continued use of fossil fuels, and supports a European Commission proposal to ensure that all new fossil fuel-fired power stations built in the EU after 2020 should capture and store CO2. The UK is also engaged in research to develop carbon capture and sequestration at a coal plant in China.

The country recently committed to emissions reductions as part of a European Union climate change and energy strategy that by 2020 will see the bloc cut greenhouse gas emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels, and produce at least one fifth of its power through renewable energy.

  • See: EU commits to reducing emissions
  • For more on the United Kingdom's climate change strategy, click here.

    For More Information: Government of the United Kingdom