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The Climate Change Act

By Gavin, 28th November 2008

Below are some highlights from a great summary on the 2degrees site (which requires registration and I’d recommend if you want to get involved).

I’m just back from IT@Cork  where amongst many things I learned that Ireland has one of the most advanced electricity grids in the world – they’re very close to being able to execute Demand Response which, if implemented at scale (internationally), would have a massive impact on energy management, efficiency and reduction. The UK Act will help move this agenda (and others) forward not just in the UK, but internationally.

Credit: Allen Shaw

“The Climate Change Act 2008 is a historic piece of legislation. It is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and, if successful, a model likely to be replicated in other jurisdictions.

A key element of the legislation is the provision for the carbon reduction commitment which this network is all about understanding – and includes the statutory powers to, for instance, develop UK centred carbon trading to fulfil the obligations within the CRC

… the scale up in the deployment of renewables is extremely aggressive and presents significant investment opportunities.

One of the most valuable features of the new Act is the greater certainty on strategy provided by the requirement to specify three five year carbon budgets that will be legally binding and scrutinized by a powerful Climate Change Committee. As the Minister of State for the Environment, Phil Woolas stated:

“The Bill establishes legally binding long-term targets and medium-term budgets to provide greater clarity for UK industry, and that will enable businesses to plan effectively and invest in the technology that is required to move towards a low-carbon economy and to reap the potential economic benefits that are on offer. It will ensure that we adapt to unavoidable climate change as well.”

The Act in more detail:

The Climate Change Act focuses on a number of policy areas:

  • Energy efficiency with the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) as flagship policy
  • Renewables expansion (increased ten fold by 2020)
  • Transport policy
  • Low carbon technology
  • Zero carbon buildings
  • Public awareness and mobilization
  • Adaptation

The calendar of activities is:

  • 1 December, 2008 the new Climate Change Committee (CCC) delivers advice for the first three carbon budgets.
  • 2009 budget first three carbon budgets delivered.
  • Mid 2009 detailed proposals presented on carbon budgets.
  • September 2009 Climate Change Committee annual report.
  • January 2010 government publishes first response to CCC report.

Key features include:

  • 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 (26% reduction by 2020).
  • All primary greenhouse gases to be included (check)
  • A carbon reduction commitment on businesses with half hourly metered consumption > 6,000MWh / year with support for emissions trading
  • Provision for inclusion of aviation and international shipping in climate policy.
  • Restrictions (amounts still to be determined) on the amount of carbon reductions that can be met by credits earned overseas.
  • A Climate Change Committee convened and empowered to advise, scrutinize and report – and hold the government to account.
  • Five year carbon budgets to be published three periods at a time – these are legally binding on government.
  • Government to report at least five yearly on the degree to which the UK is at risk from climate change.
  • Statutory powers to require public bodies and utilities to take action on adaptation.

Other powers bundled with the legislation:

  • Provision to enforce charging for single use carrier bags
  • Provision for variable charging of domestic waste
  • Amendments to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation