Legal context

The key international forum for climate legislation is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which sets out the framework for multilateral cooperation to tackle climate change. The UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol puts binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. All nations under the UNFCCC are working on a new protocol to tackle climate change by 2015.

The European Union has played a significant role in the international climate change process. It has implemented several major measures to reduce the Union’s greenhouse gas emissions. These include the Emission Trading System (ETS), and the 20:20:20 package which aims to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions, 20% energy efficiency improvement and a 20% share of renewables in energy consumption by 2020.  The EU is in discussion to introduce a 2030 Climate Framework by 2014.  The framework is intended to provide a long-term perspective on how the EU will move ahead from its 2020 targets to continue the trajectory toward a low-carbon economy in the period until 2030

The UK is the first country to introduce a long-term legally-binding framework nationally to tackle the dangers of climate change, through the Climate Change Act. The Act provides the UK with a legal framework, including a long-term target for emissions in 2050, 5-year carbon budgets on track to that target, and the development of a climate change adaptation plan. There are also a variety of legal regulations in place to ensure we meet our climate change obligations.

Global Action on Climate Change

Greenhouse gas emissions have global consequences, regardless of where they come from. Tackling climate change therefore requires coordinated action by nations around the world. Find out more here.

Climate Change Legislation in the EU

As a member of the European Union (EU), the UK participates in EU action to tackle climate change. Find out more here.

The Climate Change Act and UK regulations

Climate Change Act

The Government has taken a number of steps to limit the UK’s emissions of greenhouse gases through legally binding targets.