What is the 2008 Climate Change Act?

The Climate Change Act was passed in November 2008 with an overwhelming majority across parties. It sets out emission reduction targets that the UK must legally comply with. It represents the first global legally binding target set by a country.

The Act commits the UK to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. The Act also provides a system of carbon budgeting, to help the UK meet its targets through a series of five year carbon budgets.

The latest legislated carbon budget (the fourth carbon budget) commits the UK to a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels) for the period of 2023 to 2027.

The Act establishes the Committee on Climate Change, an independent body to provide evidence-based advice to the UK Government and parliament on the mandatory carbon budgets. The Act also includes a requirement for the Government to develop a National Adaptation Plan to manage the effects of unavoidable climate change.

Further reading

  1. Gov.uk carbon budget factsheet
  2. Committee on Climate Change : Climate Change Act webpage