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Environment analysis: The Committee for Climate Change’s (CCC) report into the UK’s contribution to stopping global warming comes at a time when climate change is high on the agenda. But, while the government’s commissioning of the report is to be lauded, it remains to be seen whether its response will be enough to ensure the UK retains its position as a world leader in the climate arena, as Simon Tilling, partner in Burges Salmon’s environment law team, explains.
Government ‘hard pressed to ignore’ new climate change zero-emissions report, LNB News 02/05/2019 65
The CCC has declared in a report that the UK can end its contribution to global warming within 30 years by setting new targets to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. According to Simon Tilling, partner at Burges Salmon, the CCC’s report cannot be easily ignored by the government, and will likely have an effect regardless of whether its recommendations are implemented. Begonia Filgueira, legal director at Foot Anstey, contends that the report is a ‘game changer’. Although Filgueira believes that the 1–2% annual GDP hit estimated by the CCC is not insignificant, she nevertheless emphasises the opportunities of climate change policy. Finally, the charity ClientEarth has welcomed the report, although it has warned the government not to continue incorporating surplus emissions into future carbon budgets.
The CCC report comes at a time when the momentum around urgent action on climate change is hitting a crescendo—Greta Thunberg-inspired school strikes, extinction rebellion’s protests, Sir David Attenborough’s call to arms on prime time and Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency all suggest that it’s an issue the public wants the government to address. All eyes are now on the government to see what it does with this report. But to truly understand the report, we need to go back in time to understand its origins.
The UK set out its stall as a leader in the international climate arena back in 2008 when Parliament passed the Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA 2008). It was the first Parliament to set binding carbon reduction obligations on future governments—namely to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050—and to hold future governments to account on progress towards this target by setting up the independent CCC.
The UK continued its influential role in the 2015 negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement, a commitment to carbon reduction targets to keep temperature increases to below two degrees Celsius a
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