Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill

Press Notice 9, Session 2006-07


The Government's draft Climate Change Bill is evidence of an ambitious determination to keep the UK at the front line of international action to mitigate climate change, concludes the Joint Committee in a report out today.

Lord Puttnam, Chairman of the Committee, said: "We believe this to be an exceptionally significant piece of legislation because of the scale of the issues it seeks to address, the impact its enactment is likely to have on individuals and communities, and the Government's intention that it should serve as an overarching framework for further and more detailed complementary legislation.

"The Government's biggest challenge is to ensure that we all understand the consequences of both our own and future generations failing to achieve the targets enshrined in this groundbreaking Bill.

In that context we urge the Government to give the most careful consideration to our report."

The Committee calls for:

  • greater parliamentary accountability in some of the Bill's key provisions

  • further thinking on legal enforceability

  • more resources, better governance and sufficient powers of oversight for the proposed Committee on Climate Change; it is hard to imagine any non-Parliamentary body, other than the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, whose role has the potential for greater impact on individuals, their families, and society as a whole.

  • the need for each government department to work with the Committee on Climate Change in developing and implementing those policies most likely to achieve the agreed minimum emission targets

  • a clearer commitment to overcoming the technical and legal questions which exclude international aviation and shipping emissions from the UK's carbon account.

  • more prominence given to the role of local authorities in helping communities adapt to the realities of climate change, and prompting individuals to change their behaviour.

Recent widespread flooding in England and extreme weather in many other parts of the world provide a sobering reminder that climate change, far from being a future threat, is in fact a present reality.

However, in its attempt to create a framework for managing a minimum 26% reduction in the UK's net carbon emissions by 2020, leading to a reduction of at least 60% by 2050, the Committee believes the Bill raises profound issues about the relationship between government and Parliament, as well as unprecedented questions about the scope and effectiveness of domestic legislation.

In particular -

  • where legal responsibility for fulfilling the Bill's core purpose of carbon reduction lies, and how it can be enforced

  • what are the limits of domestic legislation in tackling what is, by any definition, an international issue whose nature and impact is still only partially understood

  • how the Government can best strike a balance between its power to enforce change, and encouraging the public to adapt behaviour and lifestyle; independent research and advice may prove to be of unprecedented significance both in informing appropriate enforcement, and commanding a general consensus.


1. The two Houses of Parliament established a Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill to consider the draft Bill, and to report on it to both Houses. The Committee's inquiry proceeded in a similar way to other Select Committee inquiries and held hearings and received written evidence, producing a report and making recommendations to the Government.

2. Members of the Committee
Members of the House of Lords
Lord Puttnam (Chairman) (Labour), Baroness Billingham (Labour), Earl of Caithness (Conservative), Lord Crickhowell (Conservative), Lord Jay of Ewelme (Cross Bench), Lord May of Oxford (Cross Bench), Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrats), Earl of Selbourne (Conservative), Lord Teverson (Liberal Democrats). Lord Vinson (Conservative), Lord Whitty (Labour), Lord Woolmer of Leeds (Labour).
Members of the House of Commons
Ms Celia Barlow (Labour), Mr David Chaytor (Labour), Helen Goodman (Labour), Nia Griffith (Labour), David Howarth (Liberal Democrats), Mr Nick Hurd (Conservative), Mr David Kidney (Labour), Mark Lazarowicz (Labour Co-op), Mr Graham Stuart (Conservative), Dr Desmond Turner (Labour), Dr Alan Whitehead (Labour), Mr Tim Yeo (Conservative)

3. More information on the Committee's work can be found on the Committee's website

4. Media Enquiries: Laura Kibby, Tel: 020 7219 0718, Email

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on