Today, the government has its first chance since the Paris talks to make concrete, legal progress on climate. Environmental lawyers ClientEarth and climate policy experts Sandbag wrote to David Cameron, urging him to seize this opportunity to make key changes to the Energy Bill.
The Bill is at Report stage in the Commons this afternoon and two additions vital to our carbon-cutting future are on the table.
In Paris, nations supported a universal net zero emissions goal. But the UK’s Climate Change Act doesn’t reflect this internationally agreed ambition. ClientEarth was signatory to a letter to the Guardian last week, urging the UK government to put this net zero ambition into law.
Energy Bill must count carbon emissions the right way
To get to that ‘net zero’ target, we need an addition to the Climate Change Act – and it’s to do with how we count our carbon emissions.
Cutting carbon means counting it right. Our Climate Change Act’s reliance on the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) means about half of all emissions just aren’t accounted for in carbon budgets – and these budgets are the main tool we have for meeting our emissions targets. The entire power sector, for example, is exempt from carbon accounting. And it’s an issue the UK knows about.
ClientEarth and Sandbag have urged the UK government to support an amendment that makes carbon accounting transparent, unlocking the potential of the Climate Change Act to work as it must.
Jonathan Church, Climate and Energy Lawyer at ClientEarth, said:
“As a nation, we’re in a great position to take the lead on global climate action after Paris. But our Climate Change Act relies on the Emissions Trading Scheme and it’s no longer working for us. Our carbon budgets don’t do what they say on the tin and they’re not driving the emissions reductions we need.
“That needs to change. And that’s exactly what the amendments being discussed in Parliament today are designed to remedy.”
In our letter, we reminded Cameron of the UK’s capacity to be a frontrunner on climate law and lead the way in the new energy market.
ClientEarth and Sandbag support adopting both the net zero emissions goal and an amendment to clarify our carbon accounting – changes that will ready the UK for the economic and environmental ‘new normal’.