CLIMATE CHANGE BILL
Reduction of Targeted greenhouse gas emissions
The bill puts in place a statutory goal of at least a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, with 26-32% by 2020. The targets will be supported by a new system of five-yearly carbon budgets, set at least fifteen years ahead, with progress reported annually to Parliament. These will help deliver the share of the European emissions reduction targets for 2020 that were agreed at the March 2007 European Summit.
A system of carbon budgeting
The government will set, in secondary legislation, binding targets on aggregate carbon dioxide emissions over five-year periods – with three budgets set ahead to help businesses plan and invest with increased confidence.
A committee on climate change
A new independent body, the expert Committee on Climate Change, will be created to advise the Government on the setting of carbon budgets, the best pathway to 2050 and to report annually on progress. This will ensure the Government is held to account every year on its progress towards each five-year carbon budget and the 2020 and 2050 targets.
The bill contains enabling powers to introduce new trading schemes through secondary legislation, increasing the policy options which Government could use to stay within budgets and meet emissions targets.
Adaptation to climate change
The bill recognises that we are already feeling the impact of climate change, and sets out a sustainable approach to adaptation, with a commitment to produce a UK Government programme to deal with the risks posed by that impact.
The bill will increase the transparency and accountability of UK action on climate change requiring the Government to assess the risks that climate change poses to the UK, and to report to Parliament on these risks and on its programme to address them.
Financial incentives to reduce waste
The bill will provide a power to pilot local authority incentives for household waste minimisation and recycling. Authorities will be able to come forward with plans for how they want to implement the schemes, the Secretary of State then giving designated authorities the power to charge and a power to link incentives and rebates to council tax.
Amendment to 2004 Energy Act concerning renewable transport fuel obligations
The bill will enhance the operation of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), which is expected to deliver significant carbon savings from the road transport sector by increasing the use of biofuels.
The Energy Bill contains the legislative provisions required to implement UK energy policy following the publication of the Energy Review 2006 and the Energy White Paper 2007.
The Government considers that the Bill, together with the Nuclear White Paper, forms the building blocks for a 'low carbon future'.
Gas importation and storage, including carbon capture and storage
The bill aims to strengthen the regulatory framework for offshore gas supply infrastructure to enable private sector investment.
With regard to CCS, the bill aims to create an offshore storage licensing regime, storage of carbon dioxide offshore being currently prohibited unless it forms part of an enhanced oil recovery process licensed under the Petroleum Act 1998. This new regulatory framework aims to enable and encourage private sector investment in CCS projects.
The bill is limited to offshore CCS regulation, as most activities involved in CCS are industrial processes that can be regulated by existing legislation (such as the licensing of a power station with CCS equipment and the licensing of pipelines for the transportation of carbon dioxide to an offshore storage facility).
Renewable energy, including changes to the Renewables Obligation (RO)
The Bill sets out the general framework for a restructured RO, the detailed changes of which will be set out in secondary legislation to be made under the Electricity Act 1989.
The aim of the restructuring is to strengthen the RO to drive greater and more rapid deployment of renewables in the UK. The new RO will give the Government a flexible tool to encourage less mature renewable technologies as it thinks fit, reflecting changes in costs of technology as the various markets and technologies mature.
One example of the encouragement of renewables technologies will be the implementation of a new regime providing the infrastructure to transmit electricity from offshore renewables to the grid.
Decommissioning of nuclear installations, as well as of offshore oil, gas and renewable energy installations
The provisions in the Bill concerning nuclear energy form part of a package of measures announced in the Nuclear White Paper (www.practicallaw.com/6-380-1759) to facilitate the building of new nuclear power stations. The government will be looking to the nuclear industry to build a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK to replace the 20% of electricity currently supplied by existing stations, as it takes the view that renewable energy and energy efficiency, on their own, will not be sufficient to address the dual threat posed by climate change and security of supply.
However, in order to ensure that the costs of increasing the supply of nuclear energy do not fall to the government, the bill will ensure that the operators of new nuclear power stations accumulate funds to meet the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs.
With regard to decommissioning renewable energy installations, the Bill will supplement provisions in the Energy Act 2004 by giving the Secretary of State additional powers with regard to the decommissioning licensing scheme currently in force.
Changes to oil and gas legislation
The Bill contains new provisions and extends the existing regimes relating to third party access to oil and gas infrastructure, aiming to fill gaps in the application of the existing provisions to the chain of upstream petroleum infrastructure.
The Bill also improves the offshore oil and gas licensing regime to enable BERR and Ofgem to carry out their regulatory functions more effectively.
Miscellaneous provisions, including energy reports, gas and electricity meters and electrical safety
There are number of miscellaneous provisions including:
- amendments to a number of the Government's existing reporting requirements providing greater flexibility to fit in with the anticipated carbon budget reporting under the Climate Change Bill;
- transferring certain functions of Ofgem in relation to the accuracy of gas and electricity meters to the Secretary of State;
- transferring the functions of the Secretary of State relating to electrical safety under the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 to the Health and Safety Executive, giving rise to stronger sanctions for breach of the regulations, and giving the HSE the power to amend the regulations; and
- elevating the status of sensitive nuclear information relating to uranium enrichment, and the places where such information is stored, by invoking provisions of the Official Secrets Acts and the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.
The Bill introduces a new system for approving major infrastructure of national importance, such as harbours and waste facilities, and replaces current regimes under several pieces of legislation. The objective is to streamline these decisions and avoid long public inquiries.
The key features of the bill are:
- decisions would be taken by a new Infrastructure Planning Commission;
- decisions would be based on new national policy statements;
- the hearing and decision-making process by the Commission would be timetabled;
- the new regime would be used for energy developments like nuclear power;
- the Secretary of State would no longer have the final say on major infrastructure decisions;
- there would be a new Community Infrastructure Levy on developments to finance infrastructure, raising money from developers to pay for facilities needed as a consequence of new developments, such as schools, hospitals and sewage plants; and
- planning appeals for minor developments would be heard by a panel of local councillors rather than by a planning inspector.