Climate change law

The world's first climate change law

At the end of October 2008 the UK Parliament voted for a climate change law - the world’s first - following a long campaign led by Friends of the Earth which PCS supported In line with policy agreed at conference in 2006.

We successfully campaigned with Friends of the Earth and the Stop Climate Chaos coalition to increase the government’s target for cutting carbon emissions and for aviation and shipping to be included in the legislation. Stop Climate Chaos said our support was "very valuable and helped achieved a fantastic result".

Overall, nearly 200,000 people contacted their MP. Friends of the Earth hailed the campaign as an instance where “people power has changed politics”.

Speaking during the Bill's third reading in the House of Commons, secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Miliband acknowledged the role that campaigning had played in getting a UK climate change law:

"I end by paying tribute...to those who saw the dangers of climate change and the actions that needed to be taken long before the politicians did. I pay tribute to the scientists who detected the problem, the campaigners who fought to bring it to public attention, the green movement that mobilised for change, and above all, the members of the public who wrote to us in record numbers, asking for a Bill that met the scale of the challenge."

What the climate change law does

The new law commits the Government to cutting the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.  Emissions from international aviation and shipping, which the government had planned to exclude, will now be included in the target.

An independent committee on climate change will advise the government on carbon budgets and there will be regular reports to parliament to check the UK is on track to achieve the target.

'The Big Ask' campaign

Friends of the Earth launched 'The Big Ask’ campaign in May 2005, demanding that the UK government introduce a strong climate change law.

In November 2006 the government announced that a Climate Change Bill would be published. The demand for legislation was supported by over 400 MPs and a wide range of environmental, conservation and development organisations.

In March 2007 the government published a draft Climate Change Bill. This meant the UK would become the first country in the world to introduce a legal framework to reduce carbon emissions.

For more information about The Big Ask campiagn visit the Friends of the Earth website.

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