Climate change strategy

National Strategies

The UK's approach to tackling climate change.

The Climate Change Act 2008 established a legally binding target to reduce the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 against 1990 levels. It also requires the Government to set binding five-year carbon budgets based on latest scientific knowledge and economic circumstances.

The Prime Minister has clarified that the UK will aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions further and faster than any other major economy - by 68% in annual carbon emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.  This will be submitted as part of the UK's pledge to the Paris climate change agreement.

In 2019 the UK became the first national government to declare a climate change emergency.

The UK Committee on Climate Change has been established to advise the UK government on emission targets and to report progress in achieving them.

The latest CCC progress report states that territorial emissions have reduced by 30% and emissions embedded in imports have fallen by 18% since 2008. The report identifies a number of clear investment priorities for green and resilient recovery from coronavirus, including: low carbon retrofits; buildings that are fit for the future; tree planting; green infrastructure; energy networks; walking and cycling infrastructure; and a circular economy.

The latest CCC risk assessment of the current and predicted impacts of climate change include: flooding and coastal change; high temperatures harming health, wellbeing and productivity; water shortages for agriculture, energy and industry; risks to ecosystems, soil and biodiversity; risks to food production; and new pests, diseases and invasive species.

The Government has issued a 10 point plan to tackle climate change and deliver a green industrial revolution.  It intends that this will mobilise £12 billion of investment to create up to 250,000 jobs and spur much greater levels of private sector investment.

  1. Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
  2. Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
  3. Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source, across large scale nuclear and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
  4. Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
  5. Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
  6. Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
  7. Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
  8. Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
  9. Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
  10. Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.

As part of leaving the EU, the Government has indicated it will phase out £1.6 billion of agricultural subsidies to UK farmers by 2028 and will start using the funds to restore wild habitats, create new woodlands, boost soil quality and cut pesticide use.

The Government has consulted on legislation to prevent illegal deforestation in the supply chains of UK businesses and to require companies to know where the commodities they use have come from and comply with local laws.  The Council will incorporate these policies into its own procurement strategy.

The UK Climate Assembly draws together people from all walks of British life to debate climate change. They have recently identified a series of actions including: more investment in low carbon trains and buses; an early shift to electric vehicles; a ban on heavily polluting vehicles; grants to buy low-carbon cars; more wind and solar energy; greater reliance on local food production; and a change in diet to reduce meat and dairy consumption.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the economic, social and environment objectives of sustainable development. Plans should take a pro-active approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change and policies should support measures to ensure the resilience of communities and infrastructure.

The Planning White Paper proposes fundamental changes to the planning system, including to help create beautiful place that stand the test of time, protect and enhance our precious environment and support efforts to combat climate change and bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

The Clean Growth Strategy sets out government proposals to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy through the 2020s. It includes policies to improve the energy productivity of businesses by at least 20% by 2030, make all homes Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2035 and end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. For information, the energy performance of homes is based on a Standard Assessment Procedure. A property achieving a C rating must score 69-80 points out a potential 100.

The Green Future 25 Year Environmental Plan wants to help the natural world regain and retain good health. It identifies ten goals to achieve: clean air; clean plentiful water; thriving plants and wildlife; reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards such as flooding; use resources more sustainably; enhance beauty and heritage; mitigate and adapt to climate change; minimise waste; mange exposure to chemicals; and enhance biosecurity.

The Environment Bill proposes new regulations on air quality, water usage, waste disposal, resource management and biodiversity and a new Office of Environmental Protection. Its signature policy is that new development should achieve at least 10% net biodiversity gain. This will use a DEFRA metric to calculate the difference between the pre- and post- development biodiversity value of the site. Gain can be achieved via on-site provision or off-site contributions and must be maintained for at least 30 years after the development is completed.

The England Tree Strategy observes that trees capture 4% of UK carbon emissions and therefore proposes an ambitious tree planting programme to help achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The Future Homes Standard proposes changes to building regulations to uplift the energy performance of new homes. It wants homes to be 75-80% more efficient by 2025 though features such as triple glazing, heat pumps, gas condensing boilers, waste water heat recovery, airtightness standards, floor/wall/roof fabric efficiency and photovoltaics.

It is also important to note that the Health Protection Agency has identified a series of health effects arising from climate change, including temperature, air pollution, aero-allergens, ultraviolet radiation, flooding and diseases affecting humans, agriculture and animals.

The Government is banning gas boilers in new houses from 2025.

The Government is banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030.