Climate Change Committee needs teeth

The committee which would oversee and administer the proposed Climate Change Bill needs to have real powers, including the ability to set binding emission reduction targets.

This is the view of MPs tasked with holding Government to account on the planned Bill.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (EFRA) backed the aims of the Draft Climate Change Bill, which would set the UK’s first legal reduction target.

But following an inquiry into the draft Bill, EFRA has called for the planned Committee on Climate Change to be allowed to set this target – which may need to be tougher than the 60% below 1990 levels by 2050 cited in the Bill.

MPs also recommended annual milestones to be set and published to assess whether carbon reduction policies are working, and for Parliament to play a greater role in monitoring the Government’s performance.

Committee chairman Michael Jack said: “Much new scientific research suggests that 80% rather than 60% should be the number.

“It’s to help settle this argument that we suggest that Bill gives some real teeth to the Committee on Climate Change in letting it arbitrate on this matter.

“With no actual sanction against the Government in the Bill if it does not meet its target, it is vital that Parliament has an annual opportunity to hold the Executive to proper public account for any failure to perform under the terms of the Bill.

“Judicial review is no substitute for the court of public opinion.”

EFRA also recommended the ability to purchase carbon credits from abroad should only be used a last resort.

The UK Environmental Law Association (UKLEA) echoed the recommendation for tough targets, but called for the Committee on Climate Change to have the power to veto legislation or force a motion in Parliament.

A statement from the association said: “In our view, the Bill would be considerably strengthened if the Committee’s role was clarified and moved from what appears to merely advisory, to a genuinely independent auditing and policing role.”

Kate Martin

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