Mitigation - Key legislation and targets
This section sets out the key legislation and targets applicable to climate change mitigation, and summarises the impacts of each of these on sustainable energy policy making. And if you’d like to know more, further details can be found below the table.
Summary of impacts
|Legislation / Target||Impact on sustainable energy policy making|
|The Climate Change Act (2008)||
This sets outs the basis for, amongst other things, a UK target for CO2 emissions reductions by 2050, as well as a requirement for the UK to set 5 yearly carbon budgets. It also provides a basis for following incentive mechanisms, covering under incentives:
|The EU Renewables Directive||
This sets a target for the UK of generating 15% of all of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020. This in turn led to the UK Government setting out a strategy for how to achieve this in the UK Renewable Energy Strategy (see Strategies).
There are several impacts for local authority policy making that flow from this, namely:
|The Energy Act, 2008||This provided the basis for a number of financial incentives for renewable energy, namely: Feed In Tariffs, Renewable Heat Incentive and the rebanding of the Renewables Obligation. The impact of each of these on local authority policy making is covered under the incentives section.|
|Planning and Energy Act, 2008||This Act provides a legislative basis for local authorities in England and Wales to impose reasonable requirements on new development to provide a proportion of its energy from local renewable and low carbon sources of energy. In effect, it provides a legal “backstop” to some of the requirements set out in the Climate Change PPS.|
|Planning Acts (1990, 1991, 2004 and 2008)||Amongst many other things, these provide the legal basis for the English Planning Policy Statements, including the Climate Change PPS. The Planning Act 2008 also introduced the enabling legislation for the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which could be used as a mechanism for funding community heating infrastructure linked to new development (see policy objective SE7)|
|The Well-being Power||The key implication for this is that it provides a basis for local authorities to factor in wider considerations, rather than just financial ones, when procuring goods or services or selling land, for example. This may enable a local authority to take a more proactive approach to setting up energy infrastructure and delivery mechanisms, such as ESCOs, or in using the way the procure energy or use land to facilitate the development of district heat networks and energy centres. This could feed into a number of the policy objectives set out in this toolkit.|
The Climate Change Act sets a legally binding target for reducing UK CO2 emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050. It established the Committee on Climate Change, which is responsible for setting binding interim carbon budgets for the Government over successive five-year periods. The first three carbon budgets were announced in the 2009 Budget, resulting in an interim target of a 34% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions on 1990 levels by 2020.
This EU Directive was formally agreed in April 2009 and commits the EU to achieving a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 20% by 2020, increasing to up to 30% in the event of an international agreement on climate change, compared to 1990 levels. The package includes a binding renewables target of 20%. The UK's (legally binding) commitment is that 15% of all energy (i.e. covering transport, electricity and heat) should come from renewable sources by 2020.
Amongst many other things, this Act provides the legislative basis for the Feed in Tariff, the Renewable Heat Incentive, and a re-banding of the Renewables Obligation.
The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, which supplements the 1990 and 1991 Acts, places sustainable development at the heart of the planning system. Implementation of the Act is guided by Planning Policy Statements (PPSs) covering a range of issues. Those of particular relevance to this study are:
- PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development
- PPS1 Planning and Climate Change - Supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1
- PPS11 Regional Spatial Strategies
- PPS12 Local Spatial Planning
- PPS22 Renewable Energy
The Planning Act 2008 established a single development consent regime and a new planning process for nationally significant infrastructure projects. It created a new independent Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), which will be able to independently grant permission for nationally significant infrastructure projects and energy schemes, such as the construction or extension of power stations of over 50MW and the installation of electricity lines above ground.
The Planning Act 2008 also introduced the enabling legislation for the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which will empower local authorities to levy a charge on development to support infrastructure development. Section 205(2) of the Act details that the overall purpose of the CIL will be to ensure that costs incurred in providing infrastructure to support the development of an area can be funded (wholly or partly) by owners or developers of land. According to the Act, the CIL may only be used to pay for infrastructure.
The definition of infrastructure for this purpose is broad, to allow local authorities flexibility to account for local needs. In the context of the Climate Change PPS, it could include district heat networks or other energy supply infrastructure. CIL funds may be pooled across local authority areas to provide sub-regional infrastructure, provided that it supports development in the area. Local authorities will not be required to introduce the CIL; however, where it is introduced, it will be a mandatory charge. The levy will be calculated using formulae based on the size and character of a development.
This Act, originally a private member’s bill, allows local authorities in England and Wales to impose reasonable requirements on new development to generate a proportion of its energy from local renewable and low carbon sources of energy. It also enables local authorities to set energy efficiency requirements for new development. This doesn’t add to what the Climate Change PPS allows local authorities to do, but it does provide a legal basis for such approaches.
The Well-being Power, introduced in 2000, enables local authorities in England and Wales to “do anything they consider likely to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area unless explicitly prohibited elsewhere in legislation.” This provides the basis for a local authority to take a broad range of actions to achieve climate change policy objectives, such as:
- Setting up companies, contracts, joint ventures and trusts, and take shares in such ventures;
- Agreeing lower land receipts from developers in return for improved energy standards;
- Taking climate change impacts into account in their own procurement decisions;
- Undertaking initiatives such as affordable-warmth programmes and campaigns aimed at influencing behaviour.
Linked to this, the Local Government Act (2003) enables local authorities to use prudential borrowing to fund capital investment in fixed assets - allowing them to be more innovative in the services and facilities they offer. In relation to the Climate Change PPS, it could be used for example to fund community energy infrastructure or energy efficiency improvements to the existing building stock.