UK to be ‘world leader’ on climate change

The climate change bill positions the UK as a world leader in tackling climate change, environment minister David Miliband said today.

Published today, the draft bill has been hailed as the first of its kind in any country and legally commits the government to a low carbon economy and addressing climate change.

Mr Miliband said the UK cannot afford to “close our eyes and cross our fingers” over climate change.

He said: “This bill is a critical part of the equation. It will help us achieve the twin goals I set out in the strategy I am also publishing today – demonstrating leadership through action at home, while also continuing to work towards a strong international agreement post-2012.

“The government must rightly lead from the front on this, but we want everyone – the public, industry, parliament – to have their say to help us ensure that the bill really delivers.”

If passed, the bill would commit the UK to a 60 per cent cut in emissions by 2050, with a further legally binding cut of 26 to 32 per cent by 2020. The UK would also have to abide by five year ‘carbon budgets’, to be set 15 years ahead.

To enforce the bill, a committee on climate change would be established to provide independent advice and guidance to the government. It will also produce an independent report on progress which the government would be required to respond to.

Critics have criticised the bill for not enforcing annual targets. However the committee will hold the government to account on its annual progress towards the five year carbon budget and the 2020 and 2050 targets.

The Liberal Democrats have already pledged their support for the bill, but warned the government’s measures may not go far enough to tackle climate change.

Meanwhile the Conservatives described the bill as a welcome step in the right direction.