Climate Change Bill gets seal of approval

The UK will become the first country in the world to make emissions reduction targets legally binding after MPs voted in favour of passing the Climate Change Bill.

The country will now be committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and the Bill will include targets for aviation and shipping, following the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee (see related story).

Hours of intense debate over the amendments took place in the House of Commons before the Bill was approved. It is now set to become law in late November, when it is given Royal Assent.

New Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband told the House: “These key features of the Bill–the ambitions, the mechanisms and the need for a shift in all parts of society–have commanded near-universal consensus in this House.”

He added: “We know that the hard work to achieve our climate change objectives has, in a way, only just begun.”

He praised scientists, green campaigners and members of the public who had written to MPs supporting Friends of the Earth’s The Big Ask campaign for urging ministers to draw up a Climate Change Bill.

Greg Clark, Shadow Climate Change Secretary, said the Conservatives “robustly” supported the Bill, although they still had many concerns about it.

But he added: “We need serious long-term policies, not the short-termism of the past ten years. This Bill helps to secure that.”

Friends of the Earth Europe climate campaigner Sonja Meister said the Bill now set a challenge to the rest of the EU.

“The UK should follow the ambitious lead it has taken at home at the European Council, and push others to follow,” she said.

The group also raised concerns that the Bill does not limit the amount the UK can off-set by purchasing carbon credits from outside Europe.

Peter Young, chairman of the Aldersgate Group – a coalition of companies and environment groups – said: “This will give certainty to the business community and attract the significant wealth creation and jobs that London’s role as the carbon finance capital of the world would deliver.”

Kate Martin

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