When the Climate Change Act was drafted, there was scepticism over its ability to hold government to account. Has it succeeded?
When the Climate Change Act was passed, it was rightly promoted as a world-leading piece of legislation. One reason the Act was so ambitious was the high level of cross-party support it received. It was enacted by the Labour government, under pressure to do more on climate change by opposition parties and NGOs.
Five years on, it is worth revisiting some of the criticisms that were made of the draft legislation. Most critics agreed with the principle of climate change mitigation. The political and economic context for climate change policy was more benign that it is today. Instead, they focused on some features of the draft bill that were seen as potentially ineffective.
Scrutiny of the Draft Climate Change Bill was intense following its publication in early 2007. Three Parliamentary inquiries were held: by two House of Commons select committees and an official scrutiny committee of the Commons and the Lords. During their hearings, three issues received particular attention.
First, many argued that the bill’s inclusion of a 60% emissions reduction by 2050 from 1990 levels was not enough. The climate science already showed that the UK would need to cut emissions by more than this to contribute its ‘fair share’ of a global effort to limit average temperatu...