EXCLUSIVE: Brit-Govt must recognise competence of Scot-Govt in shaping and delivering UK Climate Change Act

Chris Stark
Chris Stark

By CHRIS STARK

The Climate Change Act is a pioneering piece of legislation that has formalised how the UK tackles climate change.

A decade on, let’s celebrate what the CCC has achieved and restate the arguments for its creation.

I’m delighted to get started as chief executive at the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

I joined the CCC from the Scottish Government, where I led on energy and climate change policy. Unashamedly, I bring some opinions from that post to this one.

We have an urgent need for ambitious UK-wide climate policies, but there is also a growing (and often poorly understood) role for policy made outside Whitehall.

The devolved parliaments and assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have essential competencies that need to be integrated with the UK-wide strategy – and there is real potential to develop better plans at the local authority and city region level.

I hope the CCC will be an advocate for a coherent long-term framework to bring all of this together – one which accommodates the relative strengths of the UK nations in reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. It will not be easy, but the most worthwhile things never are.

The next 10 years

As we enter the next decade of our work, I believe the CCC will need to develop a stronger opinion on ‘delivery’ – how best to actually implement policy commitments.

Yes – long-term plans and targets are essential for climate policy, but they mean nothing without adequate resource, political commitment and effective policy-making.

We know the next 10 years of progress will be tougher than the first, so it follows that we will have to develop an evidence-based opinion on policy implementation.

Our work over the next 12-18 months will have teeth and not just on the question of Paris. 

Our assessment in January of the Clean Growth Strategy highlighted a number of its weaknesses, which we’ll return to in our annual report to Parliament in June.

We will also publish a series of new studies to deepen our sectoral knowledge: a bioenergy review, a hydrogen review, a report on UK coasts and climate change, and a major piece of work on land-use and agriculture.

These come as we build towards our advice on the Sixth Carbon Budget in 2020.

Chris Stark is chief executive of the CCC.

10 May 2018

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