Documents to download

The United Kingdom, as part of its contributions to international efforts, introduced its own domestic legislation to tackle climate change in November 2008. The Climate Change Act 2008 seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a long-term targeted and “economically credible strategy”. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below the 1990 level by 2050. The long-term target is translated into five-year carbon budgets, which restrict the amount of greenhouse gases the UK can legally emit in a given five-year period. The carbon budgets legislated to date have been made in context of the UK as a member of the European Union and must continue to be met, unless revised to say otherwise, after the UK has left the EU. UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 38 percent since 1990, but the Committee on Climate Change has identified a policy gap to meet the latest carbon budget, stating that current policies are likely to deliver at best around half of the required emissions reduction from 2015–2030. 

Action to mitigate climate change is coordinated extensively at a global level. The EU has legislated on a range of climate change issues, including cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and improvements in energy efficiency through the 2020 and additional 2030 climate and energy framework. It is argued that a number of these directives have significantly contributed to emissions reduction in the UK. 

On 30 March 2017, the Great Repeal Bill white paper, ‘Legislating for the UK’s Withdrawal from the EU’, was published which set out the Government’s intentions for ensuring a functioning statute book once the UK has left the EU. It states that the whole body of existing EU environmental law will continue to have effect in the UK, but does not explicitly mention EU climate change law.

This House of Lords Library briefing offers an overview of domestic UK climate change legislation and highlights a selection of European legislation relating to climate change and how it has been implemented in the UK. This briefing also discusses the potential implications of leaving the EU on the targets set into UK law, with additional information on greenhouse gas emissions from EU countries and on their climate change domestic legislation.


Documents to download

Related posts

  • Trade and institutional frameworks after Brexit

    What institutions and arrangements will govern the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU? And what will be the implications of Brexit for UK-EU trade in services and trade in goods? This article summarises the findings of three reports from a House of Lords committee that addressed these questions, as well as the Government’s responses. The House of Lords is due to debate the reports on 6 December 2021.

    Trade and institutional frameworks after Brexit
  • Nuclear power in the UK

    The House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative) that “this House takes note of the role of civil nuclear power in meeting the United Kingdom’s (1) electricity needs, and (2) energy security”. This article gives an overview of nuclear power in the UK. It looks at issues such as its role in meeting carbon reduction targets, safety and the disposal of radioactive waste.

    Nuclear power in the UK
  • Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report

    In November 2021, the National Infrastructure Commission published the baseline report from its forthcoming second National Infrastructure Assessment. The baseline report evaluates the current state of the UK’s economic infrastructure and identifies key challenges for the coming decades, informing recommendations in the full assessment in 2023. The baseline report found that there has been significant progress in some areas such as gigabit broadband since the last Assessment in 2018. However, it added much more was required, particularly in areas such as electricity emissions and water pollution.

    Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report