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UK Government unveils new draft Climate Change Bill

Date
13 March 2007

Britain could become the first country to set legally binding carbon reduction targets under plans unveiled by Environment Secretary David Miliband. The draft Climate Change Bill calls for an independent panel to set ministers a "carbon budget" every five years, in a bid to cut emissions by 60% by 2050.

Mr Miliband hailed the draft bill as "the first of its kind in any country", and said Britain was "leading by example". The draft legislation will go to public and parliamentary consultation before becoming law next year.

The draft bill does not stipulate how the cuts should be made, or give specific reduction targets for individual businesses, councils and households. Mr Miliband said there were "big decisions" to be made on issues such as using nuclear power. He added: "In the end I don't care where the carbon reduction comes from. It's about the public interest and the market finding it."

The government's plans include:

  • A series of clear targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions - including making the UK's targets for a 60% reduction by 2050 and a 26 to 32% reduction by 2020 legally binding.
  • A new system of legally binding five year "carbon budgets", set at least 15 years ahead, to provide clarity on the UK's pathway towards its key targets and increase the certainty that businesses and individuals need to invest in low-carbon technologies.
  • 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.
  • New powers to enable the Government to more easily implement policies to cut emissions.
  • 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.

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