Consultation: Draft Climate Change Bill

earth lit up
Photo: Nasa

Today the Draft Climate Change Bill has been published for public consultation. As with any weighty issue there is also a weighty consultation document to wade through. It scores high for being very easy to read, even if some of you find the topic a tad boring.

A summary of some of the issues covered from the 56 page ‘consultation’ document are given below. In section 5 there are questions that Defra would like you to answer. To give you a flavour of these I’ve included some below. If you think you can & want to answer these (and others) feel free to clink on the link above. You can submit your answers electronically or by snailmail.

The closing date for responses is 12 June 2007.

You may choose to listen to the Secretary of State for the Environment launch his ‘consultation’ on Youtube.

A Summary by The Coffee House;

*Currently aimed at CO2 emissions only;
5.8 The emissions reduction targets do not currently apply to carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation and shipping. These emissions are not part of the Government’s existing targets, nor are they part of the current Kyoto Protocol target or EU ETS. And there is currently no international agreement on how to include these emissions in national inventories. However, there is scope in the Bill to include these sectors in the legislative framework should international policy change.
Pg.22 Consultation pdf

*However the decision on whether to enshrine in statute a CO2-only target, or whether to consider the wider basket of greenhouse gases, is clearly a complex one – it is certainly something that the legislation should provide for as a specific area for ongoing review.

Question 1: Is the Government right to set unilaterally a long-term legal target for reducing CO2 emissions through domestic and international action by 60% by 2050 and a further interim legal target for 2020 of 26-32%?

Question 2: Is the Government right to keep under review the question of moving to a broader system of greenhouse gas targets and budgets, and to maintain the focus at this stage on CO2?
Pg.25 Consultation pdf

*Carbon Budgets: 5 year periods;
5.15 Our proposed method of expressing this trajectory is through a system of “carbon budgeting”. A carbon budget is, quite simply, a limit on the total quantity of carbon dioxide emissions over a specified period of time (as explained further in Box 3). We propose that each carbon budget period should be five years long, starting from the beginning of 2008. This ensures that the first budget period, 2008-12, runs concurrently with the first Kyoto protocol commitment period and the second phase of the EU ETS. We believe that a five-year carbon budget provides the right balance between the certainty needed about how much CO2 should be emitted during a period of time, and the flexibility needed to accommodate inevitable annual variations in factors such as fuel prices and weather conditions which have a direct effect on CO2 emissions and make a series of annual targets impractical27. Indeed, we believe that for this reason a system of five year carbon budgets is the best method of ensuring that emissions reductions occur continuously, with the avoidance of costly one-off reductions in target years only.
Pg.25 Consultation pdf

5.16 Of course, five years provides insufficient certainty for many businesses making longer term investment decisions. For this reason we are proposing to set a target for 2050 into statute, and provide additional short and medium term clarity by proposing that the trajectory to our 2020 target should be represented by setting in place three five-year carbon budgets, for the periods 2008-12, 2013-17, and 2018-22. This would provide a full fifteen year horizon of expected CO2 emissions reductions, and a strong, clear signal about the subsequent direction. Future carbon budgets would then be set to ensure that there were always three budget periods’ worth of carbon budgets in statute, giving medium-term clarity whilst recognising that it is not realistic to guess conditions more than fifteen years in advance.
Pg.26 Consultation pdf

*5.17 It is proposed that carbon budgets should be set with regard to a number of factors. They should provide a trajectory to meeting our 2050 target and 2020 interim target28, whilst being consistent with international law. They should also be set by taking into account a number of factors, including:

(a) scientific knowledge about climate change;
(b) technology relevant to climate change;
(c) economic circumstances, and in particular the likely impact of the decision on the economy and the competitiveness of particular sectors of the economy;
(d) fiscal circumstances, and in particular the likely impact of the decision on taxation, public spending and public borrowing;
(e) social circumstances, and in particular the likely impact of the decision on fuel poverty;
(f) energy policy, and in particular the likely impact of the decision on energy supplies and the carbon and energy intensity of the UK; and,
(g) international circumstances.
Pg.27 Consultation pdf

Question 14: Are these the right factors for the Committee on Climate Change to take into account in assessing the emissions reduction pathway? Do you consider there are further factors that the Committee should take into account?
Pg.37 Consultation pdf

*Clear planning;
5.19 At the same time as any new budgets are set, we propose that the Government has a legal duty to set out in a published report its proposals and policies for meeting the budgets for the three periods ahead. By providing a clear indication of its intentions the Government should reinforce business and public confidence that plans are in place to ensure budgets will be achieved.

Question 3: Should the UK move to a system of carbon management based upon statutory five-year carbon budgets set in secondary legislation?
Pg.27 Consultation pdf

Question 4: Do you agree there should be at least three budget periods in statute at any one time?
Pg.28 Consultation pdf

*5.33 Allowances and credits may be purchased from overseas by a range of entities – organisations, individuals, and the Government. The Government may deem it appropriate to purchase credits from overseas itself, in order that it can count these credits towards meeting the UK’s targets and budgets. Several other governments are already adopting this approach. In addition to those UK entities that are already able to purchase credits, the Government is therefore seeking authorisation in the Bill to spend money on overseas credits and allowances, to help the UK to remain within budget if necessary.
Pg.32 Consultation pdf

Question 7: Do you agree that, in line with the analysis in the Stern Review and with the operation of the Kyoto Protocol and EU ETS, effort purchased by the UK from other countries should be eligible in contributing towards UK emissions reductions, within the limits set under international law?
Pg.33 Consultation pdf

*5.38 Building on this, we believe that any emissions reductions which exceed those budgeted for could be “banked”, for use in the next budget period. This would make it easier to meet the next budget and provide an incentive for early action and over-performance in earlier budget periods.
Pg.33 Consultation pdf

Question 8: Do you agree it should be permissible to carry over any surplus in the budget? Are there any specific circumstances where you consider this provision should be withdrawn?

Pg.33 Consultation pdf

*Functions of the Committee on Climate Change
5.52 It is intended that the Committee on Climate Change will advise Government on the level of carbon budgets appropriate to meeting its legislated targets.
Pg.36 Consultation pdf

Question 12: Do you agree that the Committee on Climate Change should have an advisory function regarding the pathway to 2050?

Question 13: Do you agree with the proposal that the Committee on Climate Change should have a strongly analytical role?
Pg.37 Consultation pdf


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4 Responses to Consultation: Draft Climate Change Bill

  1. earthpal says:

    Thanks for posting this.

    Does it mention personal carbon allowances/budgets? Can’t find anything but I haven’t read it in it’s entirety. Too tired right now.

    I’m disappointed that aviation and shipping emissions still aren’t being included in the calculations.

    T’is a great initiative but at first glance it doesn’t seem radical enough. On the positive side, many of us insisted on legislation and we are finally going to get it. We can only build on it and strengthen it. One hopes.

  2. matt says:

    Someone else picked up on PCA’s and has mentioned this on Milibands blog posting regarding the release of this draft bill. It will be seen by the general populace as just another tax on them so, I’m guessing the govt will steer well clear of this idea for now.

    The thing I’m sceptical about is the permission the govt seeks to continue carbon trading to help with meeting their self ‘imposed’ carbon reduction targets. So, if the UK govt finances reforestation in Panama (for where new schemes are currently being hatched) we as UK citizens are said to have reduced our carbon footprint. Not real ! These targets should apply to UK carbon emissions ONLY. And I’ve just added this to Miliband’s blog;

  3. Dan says:

    Thanks Matt.

    Do you know how Nasa took the photo you posted?

  4. matt says:

    You’re welcome.

    It’s a popular photo, or rather, set of photos, is how I guess it was done.

    I love the little dot of light in the centre of Oz. Alice Springs I guess.


Comments are closed.