Statutory committee on climate change will be set up; carbon emission targets will be legally binding

The government will be legally bound to a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 under the terms of its new Climate Change Bill.

David Miliband
Miliband: Climate Bill "exactly what businesses want"

The bill also sets up an independent committee on climate change to ensure the government stays within its targets. The bill marks the first time any government has put carbon reductions into law.

The government hopes to achieve its 60% target is through a system of five-year “carbon budgets”, imposed limits on the total quantity of CO2 emissions. Carbon budgets will be set out in groups of three, with the first set for the 15-year period from 2008-2022.

This will give businesses “long term certainty” according to environment secretary David Miliband, who launched the bill on Tuesday morning. “Businesses have been asking us for years to tell them what the playing field is. Fifteen years of budgeting will give them that. I think this is exactly what businesses want,” he said.

The committee on climate change will be a non-governmental body of between five and eight people advising the government on how to reduce emissions. Committee members will be appointed by the environment secretary on the basis of their knowledge of science, business and climate change policy.

It will advise on all government schemes to lower carbon emissions, including the communities department’s zero-carbon home proposals.

If the bill is passed it will be subject to a judicial review if the government fails to meet its self-imposed reductions. Enforced buying of carbon credits is one proposal to sanction governments that miss their carbon emission targets.

The government has launched a three-month consultation period on the draft Bill’s proposals. To respond, send an e-mail to: