APPCCG celebrates 10th anniversary of the Climate Change Act

On 26th November 2018 the APPCCG, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and Energy UK hosted an event in Parliament to mark the tenth anniversary of the Climate Change Act, chaired by APPCCG Chair, Dr Caroline Lucas. The event not only celebrated the Act itself and the steps that have been taken to tackle climate change in the last decade, but also highlighted how much more there is do if we are to meet our climate change targets and keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. 

Speakers included

  • The Rt Hon. Claire Perry MP (Con; Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth)
  • The Rt Hon. Ed Miliband MP (Lab; former Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change)
  • Lawrence Slade (CEO, Energy UK)
  • Dr Emily Shuckburgh (British Antarctic Survey)
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Deben (Chair of the CCC)

Following publication of Sir Nicholas Stern’s review on the Economics of Climate Change in October 2006, on the 15th November 2006 the Labour Government announced the introduction of a Climate Change Bill in the Queen's speech. The draft Bill was published on 13th March 2007, proposing five year 'carbon budgets' rather than the annual targets many had called for. On 16th October 2008 Ed Miliband MP, then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced that the Act would mandate an 80% cut overall in greenhouse gases by 2050. Following pre-legislative scrutiny by no less than three parliamentary committees, the bill was enacted on 26th November 2008.

“Our plants and animals are struggling as they try to adapt to a changing climate. Around the world it is estimated that between two to three times more species will suffer severe habitat loss if temperatures increase by 2°C rather than 1.5°C.We are currently on course to exceed 1.5°C of warming sometime between 2030 and 2050. To keep temperatures below 1.5°C a starkly increased ambition is required such that we reach net zero emissions by about 2050 and that’s the challenge to all of us because its going to affect the world that we leave to future generations” Dr Emily Shuckburgh, British Antarctic Survey

An independent Committee on Climate Change was created under the Act to provide advice to UK Government on the targets set out by the Act and related policies. The CCC was formally launched in December 2008 with Lord Adair Turner as its chair. Currently chaired by Lord Deben, its purpose, as set out by the Act, is to advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on emissions targets and report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change. 

In November 2016 the UK Government ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement, committing the UK to keeping global temperature rises below 2°C (ideally below 1.5°C), to make national commitments to reduce and track emissions, and to provide climate finance to developing countries. Last month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Special Report on Global Warming, stating that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

“We had the IPCC Report telling us we have just 12 years to get off the collision course that we’re on with potential climate catastrophe and also the Blue Planet report reminding us that there has been a 60% decline in wildlife populations in the last 40 years alone … we stand at a crossroads – this is a real wake-up call to everyone and we have to do a huge amount more.” Dr Caroline Lucas MP, Chair of the APPCCG

October also saw the first Green Great Britain Week, during which the Government formally asked the CCC to advise on the UK’s long term climate change targets, to “include options for the date by which the UK should achieve a) a net zero greenhouse gas target and/or b) a net zero carbon target in order to contribute to the global ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement…”. The CCC is due to provide its advice by the end of March 2019.

“It’s been 10 years since the Climate Change Act and the UK has become a world-leader in tackling climate change in that time - cutting emissions per person faster than any other G7 country since 1990 and producing record levels of low carbon energy. Low carbon energy provided more than half of the UK’s electricity for first time last year but we cannot afford to stand still and that is why we’ve asked our independent climate change advisers for advice on a net zero emissions target.” The Rt Hon. Claire Perry MP, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth

In June 2018 the CCC published its most recent progress report to Parliament. The CCC reported that UK greenhouse gas emissions had reduced by 43% below 1990 baseline levels, with 75% of emission reductions since 2012 coming from the power sector. However, despite these achievements the CCC highlighted that the “…UK is not on course to meet the legally binding fourth and fifth carbon budgets”. Despite significant progress in reducing emissions from electricity generation, the CCC observes that “…reductions in other sectors have stalled” and recommends that the Government:

  • Support the simple, low-cost options
  • Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement
  • End the chopping and changing of policy, and
  • Act now to keep long-term options open.

"The job isn’t even half done, we’ve got masses more to do” Lawrence Slade, CEO of Energy UK

Although progress has been made, there remains much to be done.

“Too often environmental justice has sat separately to economic and social justice. This is about cleaner air and better jobs. The question of fairness and equity at the heart of the environmental agenda is absolutely fundamental.” The Rt Hon. Ed Miliband MP

“Let’s celebrate today  the Climate Change Act is a great achievement  but let’s show a determination to commit ourselves not just to recognising the dangers of climate change but to doing something about it, not just for our children and grandchildren but for the world and their children and their grandchildren. That’s morally necessary but frankly it’s also practically necessary because we either do this altogether or climate change destroys us altogether. We can do it. We’ve started but we’ve got a long way to go.”  The Rt Hon. Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change


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