Environmental Law Service

Climate Law Database

Control system in the British Act

The British lawmaker chose a parliamentary control system in which the main responsibility is clearly divided amongs the Secretary of the State, the Parliament, the Government (other national authorities) and the Committe on a Climate Change. The Committe on a Climate Change is the independent non-departmental expert public body which has neither the power to investigate nor the power to penalize violations of the CCA and serves as an independent advisory body only. The main duty of the Committe is to make an annual report on the progress that is being made towards meeting the objectives of the CCA. The Committe has also the duty to publish its recommendations and advices provided to the Secretary of the State and to other national authorities. Because all the reports and advices are accessible to the public, the politicians are under the constant political pressure so the achieving of the CCA`s target is in their best interest (otherwise they may lose the upcoming elections). According to the British Climate Change Act, the Secretary of the State has the main responsibility for fulfillment of the CCA because its main duty is to ensure achieving the main GHG emissions reduction target. The Secretary of the State has power to amend the main target, set the carbon budget for each budgetary period or amend the target percentages, carry amounts from one budgetary period to another, alter the budgetary periods etc. Most of the Secretary of the State`s proposals and orders must be laid before the Parliament and must pass the affirmative resolution procedure, the rest of the orders must pass the negative resolution procedure which is less stringent than the affirmative resolution procedure. Most of the orders must be also consulted with the other national authorities and with the Committe so the powers of the Secretary of the State are under permanent control.

Committee on Climate Change

The first legal instrument to ensure that the CCA targets will be met is the independent non-departmental public body of experts. An independent Committee on Climate Change („Committee“ hereinafter) has been created under the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Committee’s powers are invested by Part 2 of the British Act. (Articles 32 to 42 together with the schedule 1). The Committee has neither the power to investigate nor the power to penalize violations of the CCA and serves as an independent advisory body only.

The main duty of the Committee is to produce an Annual Report on the progress that is being made towards meeting the objectives of the British Act and submit it to the Parliament. This Annual Report must contain Committee’s view on the progress that has been made towards meeting the carbon budgets and its main targets (Article 1, paragraph 1, of the British Act). The report must also state any further progress that is needed to meet given objectives. At the end of each budgetary period, the report must state Committee’s view on the way in which the budget for the period was or was not met and the action taken during the period to reduce GHG emissions. Each year, the Government (Secretary of State and other national authorities) should produce a response paper to the Committee’s report and hand it in to the Parliament. Other duty of the Committee is to report to the Parliament on the progress being made in implementation of the programme of adaptation measures relevant to the climate change under the Article 58 of the British Act. The Committee must also provide advice in connection with carbon budgets to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State, under the Articles 8 and 11 of the British Act, is obliged to ask the Committee for advice (and take this advice into account) before it issues any orders. The Committee must also give advice on emissions from international aviation and international shipping, and give advice requested by the Secretary of State under other relevant articles of the British Act. The Committee must provide national authority with any information it may request about the exercise or proposed exercise of the Committee’s fun­ctions under the Articles 38 and 48 of the British Act (and of any of its other functions). The Committee is an independent body because of its legal nature. Only the Chair of the Committee is appointed by the national authorities (the Government), the rest of the Committee’s members is appointed by the national authorities after consulting Committee’s Chair. However, the national authorities may renounce a member who is unable or unfit to carry out his duties. Argument justifying Committee’s in­dependence is the Article 27 of the schedule 1 of the British Act. On the other hand the Committee must have regard to any guidance given under the Article 41 of the British Act and must comply with any directives given under the Article 42 of the British Act. The Committee cannot be given directions as to the content of any advice or report so we can conclude that these duties do not disapprove the independence of the Committee. The Committee is empowered to do anything that appears to be necessary or appropriate for the purpose of, or in connection with, carrying out its functions. Ancillary powers are not freestanding; they may be used only to facilitate the exercise of formal functions. The Committee must also have regard to the desirability of involving the public in the exercise of its powers. The Committee can be substituted for other public body such as Ombudsman or the Supreme Audit Office (or in the case of the national ETS the equivalent of the Central Bank) in the national CCA.

The national CCA should give the Committee (or another independent public body) a primary function in reporting on progress towards meeting the budgets and targets, in maintaining a consistent approach regardless of the present Government. Requiring the Government to respond to the Committee’s annual report ensures that the Parliament and the public are able to monitor policy in this area and that the Government can be held to account annually in Parliament.