Climate change act

The Climate Change Act 2008 makes the UK the first country in the world to have a legally binding long-term framework to cut carbon emissions. It also creates a framework for building the UK's ability to adapt to climate change.

The Climate Change Act 2008 came into force on 31st May 2009

The act sets out the target for 2050: the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 should be at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline. 

“The 1990 baseline” means the aggregate amount of — 
(a) net UK emissions of carbon dioxide for that year, and 
(b) net UK emissions of each of the other targeted greenhouse gases for the year that is the base year for that gas

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government on setting carbon budgets, and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Carbon Budgets

As defined under the Climate Change Act, carbon budgets place legally binding ceilings on the level of allowed UK emissions over five year periods. In its first report, the CCC has advised on the level of the budgets for 2008-2012, 2013-2017, and 2018-2022.

In proposing the level of carbon budgets, the CCC has followed the EU framework and has produced two sets of budgets: the Intended budget, which should apply following a global deal on climate change, and the Interim budget, to apply before a global deal is reached. 

The Intended budgets require an emissions reduction of 42% in 2020 relative to 1990 (31% relative to 2005). This translates to required emissions reductions of 175 MtCO2e in 2020.

The Interim budgets require an emissions reduction of 34% in 2020 relative to 1990 (21% relative to 2005). This translates to required emissions reductions of 110 MtCO2e in 2020.

Both sets of budgets apply to all Greenhouse gases (GHGs) rather than just CO2.

For more information on the Climate Change Act and Carbon Targets go to the website for the Committee on Climate Change.

If you need help in meeting the legislation and regulations that affect you, call 0800 051 5687 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email us.