Law and policy
The UK's flagship legislation for climate change is the Climate Change Act 2008. This Act sets the UK's 'net zero' target - a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels by 2050. This is a UK-wide target and includes emissions from the devolved administrations, which make up about 20% of UK emissions.
The Act also requires the Government to prepare 'carbon budgets' which set targets for five-year periods. The Secretary of State must produce policies to meet those five-year targets. The devolved administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales create their own climate change law and policy and to support implementation of UK-wide policies. The Government must also prepare Climate Change Risk Assessments and National Adaptation Programmes.
The Climate Change Committee provides advice to the UK and devolved governments on their policies and tracks the progress of the UK and the devolved administrations on their targets. The Committee's advice on the Sixth Carbon Budget (2033-2037) recommended policies to support low-carbon energy use. The key message of the 2022 Progress Report was: "The UK Government now has a solid net zero strategy in place, but important policy gaps remain." The Committee has also provided reports on progress in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Climate law and policy across the four nations