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Draft Climate Bill published
13 March 2007
The publication of the Government's draft Climate Change Bill was welcomed by Friends of the Earth today (13 March). The campaign for a new climate change law has been led by Friends of the Earth through The Big Ask climate campaign (www.thebigask.com). The campaign was launched in 2005 to secure new legislation which would commit the Government to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by an average of at least three per cent every year.
Friends of the Earth's director, Tony Juniper said:
"We are delighted that the Government has recognised the need for a new law to tackle climate change. The UK will be the first country in the world to introduce a legal framework for reducing carbon emissions. But the draft Bill must be strengthened if the UK is to set a global example. It must include bigger cuts in carbon dioxide emissions and make all future governments accountable for their role in delivering these cuts. That's why The Big Ask, Friends of the Earth's climate campaign, is calling for strong legislation which will commit government to cutting the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of three percent every year."
Friends of the Earth says that the Climate Change Bill should:
- Ensure that UK carbon dioxide emissions are cut by an average of at least three per cent every year;
- Include international aviation & shipping emissions;
- Establish a tough independent body to set future targets and demand action when targets slip;
- Require an annual progress report to Parliament, with a debate, led by the Prime Minister.
There is now a huge coalition of organisations, politicians and political parties calling for a climate change law which will require the Government to make annual cuts in the UK's carbon dioxide emissions. This includes 412 MPs (just under two thirds of the 646 MPs), all the main opposition parties and Stop Climate Chaos - a coalition of environment and development organisations, unions, faith, community and women's groups.Background and a history of the campaign for a climate change law are below .
Friends of the Earth is a founding member of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition. The coalition's campaign, "I Count" is designed to inspire personal and political action and counter the view that climate change is too big a problem to fix. More information at: icount.org.uk
The Climate Change Bill
Ministers have said the draft bill is likely to include the following measures:
It will put the Government's long term goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent by 2050 into statute. It will also set "appropriate interim targets" for cutting carbon emissions.
It will establish an independent body to work with Government to reduce emissions over time and across the economy.
Ministers have also indicated that the Bill will include enabling powers which allow them to establish and vary new emissions reduction measures.
It will require the Government to make an annual report to Parliament on progress towards meeting emissions reductions.
The public consultation on the Bill is likely to last for around three months. The Bill will then be debated by the House of Commons and the House of Lords before becoming law - potentially around summer 2008. The UK will be the first country in the world to put a framework for reducing carbon dioxide emissions into law.
Friends of the Earth's View
Friends of the Earth welcomes the Government's commitment to producing a legal framework for tackling carbon dioxide emissions. This is the central demand of The Big Ask Campaign (www.thebigask.com).
However, if the UK is to lead the world in tackling climate change the Bill needs to have muscle. This means:
The cuts in carbon dioxide emissions proposed by the Bill need to ensure the UK plays its part in keeping global temperatures from rising two degrees above pre industrial levels - the temperature rise recognised by the EU as a `danger level' we should not breach. Friends of the Earth believe that this requires a cut of at least three percent each year through to 2050 (which would add up to a cut of around 80% by 2050). The Government's current target - a cut in emissions of 60 percent by 2050 - is no longer considered to be a sufficient contribution by the UK or other developed countries. In addition it fails to take account of the UK's share of emissions from international shipping and aviation.
The Bill must include a robust framework that ensures all future Governments are held accountable for their role in keeping the UK on track to meet its emission reduction targets. If targets for reducing emissions span more than one Government's term in office a Government may avoid taking action to cut emissions, knowing that its successor will get the blame for missing targets. Friends of the Earth has proposed annual targets for cutting emissions so that it is clear whether or not the Government in power is on track for delivering the emissions reduction targets.
A Brief History of the Campaign for a Climate Change Bill
7 April 2005
Following discussions between Friends of the Earth, former Conservative Environment Minister John Gummer, former Labour Environment Minister Michael Meacher and the then Lib Dem Environment spokesman Norman Baker, a Bill, drafted by Friends of the Earth, was introduced to Parliament (by the three MPs) setting out a Bill to combat climate change by setting annual targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions until 2050. Parliament was then shortly dissolved ahead of the general election.
25 May 2005
Friends of the Earth formally launched The Big Ask climate campaign (www.thebigask.com), with Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, calling for new legislation to make the Government responsible for cutting UK carbon dioxide emissions by three per cent every year. On the same day a Parliamentary petition (Early Day Motion 178) opened calling for new legislation requiring "annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions of three per cent".
13 July 2005
A coalition of organisations and MPs calling for a new climate law with annual CO2 cuts is formed. Over the next 12 months the coalition will grow enormously.
1 September 2005
This coalition, Stop Climate Chaos is launched demanding urgent action on climate change.
1 September 2006
Conservative leader David Cameron shares a platform with Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper and calls for a climate change law to be included in the next Queen's Speech.
380 MPs have so far signed EDM 178 [8).
Mid September 2006
Friends of the Earth launched a big push on the Climate Change Bill to target as many MPs as possible to get them to sign EDM 178 and to write to the Prime Minister calling for new legislation on climate change. Over the coming weeks 620 MPs (out of a total of 646 MPs) are lobbied personally by constituents who back The Big Ask campaign.
12 October 2006
David Miliband indicates that the Government will introduce legislation to tackle climate change.
30 October 2006
The Stern review warned of the huge economic costs of failing to tackle climate change. On the same day Environment Secretary David Miliband says that legislation will form a fundamental part of the UK's strategy to tackle climate change and address the issues raised by the Stern Review.
4 November 2006
Over 25,000 people attended the Stop Climate Chaos event in Trafalgar Square to call for urgent action on climate change - including a new law requiring annual cuts in carbon dioxide. This was the biggest climate change event ever in the UK.
8 November 2006
412 MPs have signed EDM 178 - 64 per cent of MPs overall, and a majority in every party sitting in Parliament.
15 November 2006
The Government announces the introduction of a Climate Change Bill in the Queen's Speech.
A more detailed history of the Campaign for a Climate Change Bill is available at: www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/history_of_the_big_ask.pdf (PDF)
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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust
Last modified: Jul 2008