UK Climate Change Act isn’t working and must be revived

The UK’s pioneering Climate Change Act (CCA) isn’t working and robust policies to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets must be brought forward urgently.

This is the conclusion of a new ClientEarth report calling for the CCA to be revived.

ClientEarth analysis finds that the persisting fourth carbon budget ‘policy gap’ – the difference between the emissions reductions needed to hit the fourth carbon budget emissions target, and the actual reductions current policies will produce – is a legal failure and a clear breach of the Act.

The environmental law group says that the government must use its new Carbon Plan, due later this year, to breathe new life into the Climate Change Act. But how the government implements the CCA needs to be reset too, before it is too late.

ClientEarth lawyer Jonathan Church said: “A policy and reporting reset is essential if we are to hit emissions targets. We can’t afford to drift for the next five years – as we have done for the last five years – without proper climate policies and progress.

“With its new Carbon Plan, the government has the chance to make the Act a living law and put the UK on the path to a clean, green energy future.”

Five years ago, the Government admitted its policies would miss emissions targets by 187 megatons of CO2 – equivalent to Vietnam’s emissions in a whole year. Since then, it has not corrected its course.

The 2011 Carbon Plan is being increasingly ignored, and there has been no reporting on climate policy milestones since 2012, despite government promises.

Meeting emissions targets set out in the first four carbon budgets has been projected to add 1.1% to GDP, and hitting UK climate targets could save around £100bn compared with delaying action beyond 2020.

Jonathan added: “Government lauds the CCA in public, but its actions don’t match its words. Successive governments have failed to account for how their decisions are impacting carbon emissions, with major climate decisions being made without mention of carbon targets or how the UK will get back on track to meet them.

“Our carbon budgets are not just wallpaper. They must inform policy decisions across Government today, tomorrow and in the future.”

Read the report – Mind the gap: Reviving the Climate Change Act

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Jamie Dobson

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