The Queen's Speech indicated the Government's intent to bring forward legislation on climate change. I am pleased to announce that today we are publishing a draft Climate Change Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny and public consultation. I am also publishing today a strategy document setting out the broader context for the draft Bill. Copies of both documents have been placed in the House Libraries and are available on my Department's website.
The debate on climate change has shifted from whether we need to act to how much we need to do by when, and the economic implications of doing so. The time is therefore right for the introduction of a strong legal framework in the UK for tackling climate change. The draft Climate Change Bill is the first of its kind in any country.
The Government have shown consistent leadership in the field of climate change by setting bold targets and pursuing ambitious policies. We are committed to securing a strong multilateral agreement beyond 2012 and, within the EU, move to a low-carbon economy over time. At home, we have already shown progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic growth, and are set to almost double our target under the Kyoto Protocol.
This Bill provides a legal framework to manage future emissions. It provides a clear, credible and long- term framework that will provide greater clarity and confidence for businesses and individuals to plan and invest in delivering the changes needed to move to a low carbon economy. It will demonstrate leadership through example—a vital factor in helping to secure future international agreements.
In summary the Bill:
makes challenging carbon dioxide reduction targets for 2020 and 2050 legally binding;
introduces a system of 'carbon budgeting' capping emissions over five-year periods—with three budgets set ahead to help businesses plan and invest with increased confidence;
creates a new independent body to advise on the setting of carbon budgets and to report to Parliament on progress;
contains enabling powers to make future policies to control emissions quicker and easier to introduce; and
introduces a new system of Government reporting to Parliament including on climate change adaptation policies.
Taken together these measures create a coherent framework that will ensure we achieve reductions in emissions through domestic and international action whilst maintaining a strong and growing economy and high levels of social welfare.
The Government look forward to receiving a wide range of views on its proposals. We aim to introduce the final Bill to Parliament in autumn this year.
The accompanying strategy document sets out how the draft Bill fits into the Government's broader strategy for tackling climate change. It highlights some key announcements coming up in the next few weeks and months which will be central to the Government's strategy —in particular the Energy White Paper, the Waste Strategy and the Planning White Paper. And it sets out the broader international context, where the UK will continue to press for action through the EU, the G8 and the UN— recognising that only collective action can ultimately solve this unique global challenge.