UK: Climate Change Act

Last Updated: 7 September 2009
Article by Neil Amner

The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent on 04 August 2009. The Act will act as the principal Climate Change framework in Scotland from which further, more specific regulations will be made relating to renewable energy, forestry, energy efficiency and waste, amongst others. The Act, has attracted a great deal of comment, including the following observations:

  • It does not make provision for Ministerial accountability in the event of targets not being achieved;
  • The targets up to 2020 are too relaxed and could result in progress towards the 2030 and 2050 targets slipping;
  • Progress towards the 2020 targets has already slipped significantly and catching up will present a considerable challenge; and
  • There is no limit on the proportion of Scotland's emissions reductions that can be achieved through purchasing international carbon credits.

It might be that future amendments and sets of regulations will address some of these concerns.

The provisions of the Act can be expected to have effects ranging from the small-scale (e.g. being charged for carrier bags) to the large-scale (e.g. climate change adaptation projects and renewable energy and heat projects).

The Act is split into six parts:

Part 1 – The Targets

Part 2 – Scottish Climate Change Committee

Part 3 – Reporting Duties

Part 4 – Duties of Public Bodies

Part 5 – Other Climate Change Provisions

Part 6 – General and Miscellaneous

Part 1 – The Targets

The first part of the Act sets out the "black and white" emissions reduction targets. These are as follows:

  • A long-term target of ensuring Scottish Emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 are at least 80% lower than the baseline.
  • An interim target of ensuring Scottish Emissions of greenhouse gases in 2030 are at least 50% lower than the baseline.
  • Annual targets of ensuring that maximum emissions of greenhouse gases for the period 2010-2022 (to be set no late than 01 June 2010) and for subsequent five-year periods are not exceeded. The subsequent periods are; 2023-2027; 2028-2032, etc (the targets for each to be set no later than 31 October in 12th year before the beginning of the period in question i.e. the 2023 target must be set by 31 October 2011); From 2020, each annual target must be at least 3% lower than the previous one.

"Greenhouse Gases" refers to six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. These are the same gases referred to in the Kyoto Protocol.

"Baseline" is the net Scottish emission in 1990 of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and 1995 for the other three gases.

"Scottish Emissions" is capable of including emissions that represent Scotland's share of emissions from international aviation and shipping. The "UK" Climate Change Act does not include aviation and shipping emissions.

Part 2 – Climate Change Committee

Although the Act contains provisions for creation of a Scottish Committee on Climate Change, the UK Climate Change Act establishes a UK Committee on Climate Change to provide expert advice, analysis, information or assistance on climate change matters. Scottish Ministers will refer to the UK Committee but the Act provides them with the option of creating a Scottish Committee if this is deemed to be in Scotland's interests.

Part 3 – Reporting Duties

The Scottish Ministers are required to report regularly to the Scottish Parliament across the full range of reduction targets. These reports are to include: annual reports, reports on proposals and policies designed to meet current and future targets, report on instances of exceeding emissions targets and, finally, produce final statements in respect of the 2030 and 2050 targets.

Part 4 – Duties of Public Bodies

Part 4 places reporting duties, similar to those in Part 3, on public bodies although the precise nature and extent of these duties will be become clearer over time.

Part 5 – Other Climate Change Provisions

Split into 4 chapters, Part 5 addresses specific topics that have significant effects for emissions reductions.

  • Chapter 1 – Climate Change Adaptation

Scottish Ministers are obliged to create a programme addressing climate change risks identified at UK level and setting out relevant proposals and policies.

  • Chapter 2 – Land Use

The provisions are designed to facilitate renewable energy development on the National Forest Estate by giving The Forestry Commissioners the ability to enter into Joint Ventures for renewable energy development, particularly wind and hydro, with developers and local communities.

Organisations involved in forestry have given a general welcome to the proposals but have raised questions surrounding the specifics of the Joint Ventures, the extent to which funds generated will be re-invested in forestry and/or climate change actions, impacts on employment and the phasing of energy schemes to prevent dumping of felled material onto the market.

  • Chapter 3 – Energy Efficiency

A duty is placed on Scottish Ministers, within 12 months of the relevant section coming into force, to produce a plan promoting energy efficiency. A duty is also placed on Scottish Ministers to promote the use of heat from renewable sources.

  • Chapter 4 – The Scottish Civil Estate

Duties are placed on Scottish Ministers in respect of buildings used for Scottish Government business.

  • Chapter 5 – Waste Reduction and Recycling

The Scottish Ministers will be able to pass regulations in respect of:

  • Waste prevention and management plans - practical examples of such plans include how a builder plans to reduce waste generated by a building operation or how an office will minimise its waste. It is likely a system of enforcement, including offences and penalties, will be required to ensure that plans are actually drafted and complied with.
  • Provision, by specified "persons", to SEPA, of information about the waste produced by those persons' activities. It is likely a system of enforcement will be required to ensure information is provided correctly and on time.
  • Provision of recycling facilities for deposit of waste and requiring that such waste be collected by an authorised person and recycled (as far as practicable). Again, a system of enforcement is likely.
  • Targets for reductions in the amount of packaging in use or the amount of greenhouse gases associated with such packaging. Targets could be set according to such measures as turnover or market share.
  • Charging for the supply of carrier bags – the charge would not be levied by central or local government but by the suppliers of the bags e.g. supermarkets. The proceeds would have to be applied to broadly environmental purposes and a system of enforcement is provided for.

Part 6 – General and Miscellaneous

This part simply makes administrative and procedural provision for measures specified earlier in the Act.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.