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RDAS Welcome Pioneering Climate Change Bill But Say 'Hard Work Starts Here'

27 November 2008

England’s RDAs have welcomed the news that the UK has become the first country in the world to enshrine stringent CO2 reduction targets in law, but have said that the hard work lies ahead.

Richard Ellis, chair of East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and lead chair for England’s regional development agencies on climate change said:

"Today is to be welcomed, but the hard work begins here.

"With the Royal Assent of the Climate Change Bill the UK has set a challenging but necessary target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This will play a major role in shifting the country to an economy based on low-carbon, sustainable economic growth. However we now need renewed efforts to mitigate against the effects of climate change and seize the economic opportunities available.

"Regional development agencies have a major role to play in assisting the UK meet its targets and this is reflected in their corporate plans and all the regional economic strategies, drafted by RDAs but which are agreed by regional partners and stakeholders.

"Through strategic leadership, partnership working and targeted investment RDAs have already made a significant contribution to tackling climate change. Via this continued contribution, by leading on the development of the new regional strategies, RDAs can put low-carbon economic growth at the heart of everything they do, which will be vital going forward."

To fit with the passing of the Climate Change Bill, RDAs are launching a range of case studies demonstrating the work of regional development agencies on climate change issues and these are now available on the www.englandsrdas.com website.

By receiving Royal Assent, the Climate Change Bill, which commits the UK to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, passes its final milestone and becomes enshrined in UK law. This makes the UK the first country in the world to have a legally binding long-term framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions and help adapt to climate change. While the granting of Royal Assent is merely a formality, it is a necessary final step before the new CO2 targets come into effect.

Richard Ellis added:

"Today is a time to recognise and harness the economic opportunities that come from leading the way in developing new technologies and techniques that can help us tackle climate change. The global market for environmental goods and services is expected to grow by more than 30 per cent to £436 billion by 2010. The partnerships between RDAs and businesses are there to ensure that we harness this and focus on carbon reduction; drive innovation by providing the right support; create access to sustainable energy markets; and attract global investment in related sectors into the regions.

"Here in the East of England, global climate change poses a very real threat, which is why, as a region, we have been committed to achieving the 80 per cent by 2050 CO2 reduction target for some time. We have also been investing in innovative projects in order to take a leading role on the fight against climate change."

Speaking in his current role as Chair of Chairs for the regional development agency (RDA) network, Dr Bryan Jackson, chairman of East Midlands Development Agency (emda) added: "The challenge of responding to climate change is one that the RDAs are taking very seriously and we welcome the passing of this Bill which highlights Government’s commitment to legislate on an issue of such high importance.

"The RDAs are already working closely with local partners and the business community in our regions to take practical steps to reduce our carbon footprint and assess all options and strategies for adapting to the risks and capitalising on the opportunities that will arise through climate change.

"The East Midlands hosts the national Energy Technologies Institute, a £1 billion public private partnership, which is playing a major role in technology developments internationally in support of the UK's climate change goals going forward."

Activity which SEEDA is involved in

SEEDA is working at all levels, including with the energy sector, to deliver low-carbon energy solutions for the South East – fully recognising the ‘double dividend’ benefits of business growth and carbon reduction. For example, SEEDA has worked closely with Vestas, the world’s leading supplier of wind power, to secure a new global Research & Development Centre for the development of ‘next generation’ wind turbine blades on the Isle of Wight. The Centre, which will be operational from 2010, will have a critical role in helping to meet the UK’s aspirations for major growth in offshore wind to 2020; it will provide some 150 new jobs and help to secure Vestas existing presence (already employing 600) on the island.

The Greater South East RDAs (SEEDA, EEDA & LDA) have helped fund a report commissioned by the Three Regions Climate Change Group called 'Your home in a changing climate: retrofitting existing homes for climate change impacts, a report for policy makers'. The Report shows that it is possible and cost effective to increase the resilience of the existing housing stock. It shows that small changes can have a big impact and gives practical examples, showing the costs, financial savings and environmental benefits. The Report, aimed at policy makers, housing professionals and householders, is available here

All RDA case studies are available from the RDA website.

Notes to editors:

"Tackling Climate Change in the Regions" (July 2007) sets out the role of RDAs, examples of climate change activity and RDA commitments. Click here to download the full document

Briefing note

The climate change bill received royal assent last night (26th November) and brought into law the world's first legally binding targets for a nation to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK Government is now committed to cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. Progress towards this target will be monitored by a new independent climate change committee, which is expected to recommend the first three five-year "budgets" on Monday 1st December.

The committee will not be able to hold ministers to account if they miss the targets, but will make an annual report to parliament on progress towards the budgets. Other countries have announced similar or deeper emissions cuts, but none have committed them selves by law.

Key Features

  • Legally binding targets: Green house gas emission reductions through action in the UK and abroad of at least 80% by 2050, and reductions in CO2 emissions of at least 26% by 2020, against a 1990 baseline.
  • A carbon budgeting system which caps emissions over five year periods, with three budgets set at a time, to set out the trajectory to 2050. The first three carbon budgets will run from 2008-12, 2013-17 and 2018-22, and must be set by 1 June 2009.
  • The creation of the Committee on Climate Change, a new independent, expert body to advise Government on the level of carbon budgets and where cost effective savings could be made. The Committee will submit annual reports to Parliament on the UK’s progress towards targets and budgets to which the Government must respond.
  • Further measures to reduce emissions include powers to introduce domestic emissions trading schemes more quickly and easily through secondary legislation and measures on biofuels; powers to introduce pilot schemes to charge for household waste; powers to require a minimum charge for single-use carrier bags.
  • On adaptation the Government must report at least every five years on the risks to the UK of climate change, and publish a programme setting out how these impacts will be addressed. The Bill also introduces powers for Government to require public bodies and statutory undertakers to carry out their own risk assessment and make plans to address those risks.
  • The Bill also sets up an Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change, in order to provide advice to and scrutiny of the Government’s adaptation work.
  • The Bill also contains a requirement for Government to issue guidance on how companies may report their greenhouse gas emissions, and to review (by 2011) the contribution of reporting to achieving the UK’s climate change objectives.
  • At Commons Report stage (on 28 October) Government amendments were moved to bring power generators within the CERTS scheme, implementing part of the PM’s fuel bills package.

The press notice sets out many of the key areas of relevant RDA climate change activity. In addition:

  • Examples of RDA case studies relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation are being collated as part of showcasing and promoting the work of RDAs. As well as being promoted on the Nat Sec website, they will also be fed into contacts at Defra and BERR as well as the work of the Local & Regional Adaptation Partnership Board (Yvette Dearden sits on this) as it develops its work in relation to the regional agenda. RDAs will play a lead role in shaping this work area.
  • The Energy White Paper 2007 called for RDAs to set carbon reduction targets in their corporate plans; publish an estimate of the carbon they expect to save from their policies and programmes by 2010 and 2020; and update these at least annually as they develop new programmes. EEDA is leading a task and finish group - that includes Defra and DECC - on developing a common methodology to achieve this goal. To date, a set of operating principles have been agreed and work has been commissioned to set out a common model and transition plan.

An extract of the targets from SEEDA’s Corporate Plan:

Regional Outcomes during Corporate Plan period

Growth in CO2 emissions halted and plans in place to reduce by 20% from 2003 baseline by 2016 [pro rata target would be 8% reduction in CO2 emissions from 8.9 to 8.2 tonnes per capita per annum, 19m to 17.5m tonnes in total]

760MW renewable energy installed by 2010, around 7% of regional electricity supply [pro rata target would be1170MW capacity to deliver 10% supply]

SEEDA is meeting its Energy White Paper commitments and going beyond them by committing to a 30% reduction in our own emissions and working with our regional partners to develop a common position of joint target reduction. This will include measuring the success of our programmes up-front, for example by recording carbon reductions from our business and community behaviour change on SEE-Stats.

In addition, there is cross RDA carbon accounting group (coordinated by EEDA as part of the lead role) working to develop a common carbon accounting model. Dialogue is also underway with the Carbon Trust to share their carbon accounting work with the RDAs. It is hoped that a common methodology can be in place from April 2009 but this is subject to consultation and testing.

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155