Committee on Climate Change

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Committee on Climate Change

The Committee on Climate Change is an independent body which advises the UK and devolved Governments on tackling and preparing for climate change. The Committee provides advice on setting carbon budgets (for the UK Government carbon budgets are designed to place a limit or ceiling on the level of economy-wide emissions that can be emitted in a five-year period), and reports regularly to the Parliaments and Assemblies on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.[1] For the UK Government the Committee advises the Department of Energy and Climate Change and its powers are invested by Part 2 of the Climate Change Act 2008.

The Committee is supported by a small secretariat of economists, scientists and corporate staff.


The Committee on Climate Change was formally launched as a statutory committee in December 2008 with Lord Turner as its chair. The current chair is John Gummer, Lord Deben. The other committee members are Lord May of Oxford, Sir Brian Hoskins, Lord Krebs, Professor Dame Julia King, Professor James Skea, Paul Johnson, and Professor Samuel Fankhauser. David Kennedy was Chief Executive of the Committee from 2008 until his departure in May 2014.

An Adaptation Sub-Committee was set up in 2009 to provide advice to Government about adaptation, meaning the steps the government and devolved administrations of the United Kingdom should be taking to prepare for climate change impacts. Lord Krebs is the Chair of the Adaptation Sub-Committee, the other Committee members are Graham Wynne, CBE, Professor Jim Hall, Dr. Sam Fankhauser, Dr. Andrew Dlugolecki, Professor Martin Parry, Professor Anne Johnson and Professor Tim Palmer.

On 1 December 2008 the committee published its first major report entitled "Building a low-carbon economy – the UK’s contribution to tackling climate change".[2] This recommended that the UK adopt a long-term target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by at least 80% by 2050, in order to tackle climate change. It recommended the level of three five-yearly carbon budgets to cover the periods 2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022.

In line with the recommendations in the Committee's report, in April 2009 the Government set a requirement for a 34% cut in carbon emissions by 2020.[3]

In December 2010, the Committee recommended a 4th Carbon Budget to cover the period from 2023-2027. They recommended that the Government aims to cut emissions by at least 60% by 2030 to ensure that the UK is on track to meet the 2050 target. Parliament will debate the contents and proposals of this report before this summer's recess.

In addition to reports to advise on the level of carbon budgets, the CCC also provides annual progress reports to Parliament which provide an update on Government's progress towards meeting climate targets. The CCC has published Progress Reports for 2009 and 2010.

The Committee also publishes other advice on climate change science, economics and policy. It has recently published advice to Government about the Carbon Reduction Commitment, Low-carbon innovation, Aviation, Adaptation and Scottish climate change targets.

Reports and key recommendations

Carbon Budget Reports

Key Recommendations: 1. The UK should reduce emissions of all Greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 2. The first three carbon budgets (2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022) should lead to emission reductions of 34% by 2020 3. The budgets should cover all sectors of the economy and can be achieved at a cost of 1-2% of GDP in 2050

Key Recommendations: 1. Review of the latest climate science reveals that the case for action is robust 2. The fourth carbon budget should limit emissions to 1,950 MTCO2e for period 2023-2027, leading to a 60% emissions cut by 2030 3. Electricity Market Reform is urgently required, alongside appropriate policies in buildings, agriculture, transport and industry sectors

The fifth statutory report to Parliament on progress towards meeting carbon budgets was published in June 2013. Implementing of loft and cavity wall insulation, boiler replacement, new car efficiency, investment in renewable power generation, and waste emissions reduction was in good progress.

Progress Reports

Key Recommendations: 1. A step change is required in the rate of emission reductions, moving from annual cuts of 0.5% to 2-3% each year 2. Rapid decarbonisation of the power sector is a priority, alongside energy efficiency improvements and reductions in road transport emissions 3. Achieving the carbon budgets is possible at low cost

Key Recommendations: 1. A step change is still required 2. GHG have reduced in 2009 but this is largely due to the recession and is not as the result of underlying progress 3. New policies are required in 4 areas: electricity market reform, energy efficiency, electric cars and agriculture

Other Advisory Reports

Key Recommendations: 1. Any future airport expansion should stay within a limit of increasing passenger demand by 60% by 2050 2. There is scope to reduce emissions through improving fuel efficiency and aircraft design and through operational improvements 3. Aviation emissions must be included within a UK strategy to tackle climate change

Key Recommendations: 1. Scotland's interim target to reduce emissions by 42% by 2020 is ambitious, but achievable 2. Flexibility should be added to system of using annual targets to reduce risk 3. Scottish government should set out a strategy to deliver budgets through strengthening key policies

Key Recommendations: 1. Funding for a suite of low-carbon technologies required to meet 2050 target should be protected 2. Any reduction in current funding levels (£550m per year) would increase the risk of missing carbon budgets 3. UK should focus on developing and deploying offshore wind, marine (wave and tidal), Carbon capture and storage, smart grids and meters, electric vehicles and aviation.

Key Recommendations: 1. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in the UK 2. The UK should act now to start to prepare itself for a warmer climate 3. 5 Key priority areas for action are: buildings, land-use planning, emergency planning, infrastructure and natural resources

Key Recommendations: 1. The scheme should be redesigned to reduce its complexity before the start of the 2nd phase 2. Separate league tables should be established for the private and public sectors 3. The sale of an unlimited number of allowances at a fixed price should be used, rather than a complex auctioning system

In 2011, it planned to publish a Renewable Energy Review (May 2011), a 3rd Progress Report to Parliament (June 2011), 2nd report on Adaptation (July 2011) and a Review of Bioenergy (November 2011).

Quotes about the CCC

After accepting the CCC's proposals on the 4th Carbon Budget, Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said:

"The Coalition Government has set a fourth carbon budget level, in line with the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, that sends a clear signal about our determination to transform Britain permanently into a low carbon economy. By cutting emissions we’re also getting ourselves off the oil hook, making our energy supplies more secure and opening up opportunities for jobs in the new green industries of the future."

On the Committee's first Progress Report, Lord Nicholas Stern said: "The Committee on Climate Change has produced a report which charts both the way forward in monitoring targets, emissions and policies and shows what will be required to achieve the necessary emissions reductions; it is a fine piece of work, which should be supported across the political spectrum and which will enhance the UK's role in fostering global understanding and agreement."

See also


  1. Committee on Climate Change
  2. "Building a low-carbon economy – the UK's contribution to tackling climate change" (PDF). Committee on Climate Change. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Budget 2009: Darling promises 34% emissions cuts with world's first binding carbon budgets, The Guardian

External links and further reading