Climate and Ecology Bill Briefing 10th September 2019

I. Why ESCC should support the Climate and Ecology Bill (also known as the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill)

The Bill provides scientifically-sound, unambiguous and understandable targets, a requirement for integrated policy framework and a process for public engagement not provided in current or upcoming piece-meal legislation. It is supported across the political spectrum and is consistent with ESCC’s profile as progressive, taking action on climate change and protecting nature. Publicly declaring support for the Bill will show we are serious about the issues and about the need for legislation to ensure urgent action takes place.

More specifically:

ü  The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report of 2021 finds that the UK is not on track to reach the 2050 target of netzero.

ü  The recent International Panel on Climate change (IPCC) report is unambiguous: the climate and ecological situation is now an issue of national security with any semblance of a secure future at perilous risk.

ü  The Bill emphasises consensus and cross party working, as is appropriate and necessary to address a local, national and international crisis.

ü  Accountability frameworks are clear so we can be sure sufficient action will be taken, and this will build confidence and security.

ü  The Bill calls for multi-year funding, to assist local government with immediate and longer-term financial planning.

Extracts from IPCC Climate Change Report 2021 - Summary for Policymakers:

o    Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, …, has strengthened since AR5 (the last report)

o    Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions occur in the coming decades.

o    Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions, and proportion of intense tropical cyclones, as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.

o    Many changes due to past and future GHG emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.

o    From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other GHG emissions. Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality.

o    Scenarios with very low or low GHG emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-2.6) lead within years to discernible effects on greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations, and air quality, relative to high and very high GHG emissions scenarios (SSP3-7.0 or SSP5-8.5). Under these contrasting scenarios, discernible differences in trends of global surface temperature would begin to emerge from natural variability within around 20 years, and over longer time periods for many other climatic impact-drivers (high confidence).

II. Who supports the Climate and Ecology Bill?

·         115 MPs from 12 political parties (including independent)

·         29 Peers

·         103 Councils – including 11 Conservative led Councils

·         229 Organisations

III. Who helped with the revised Bill?

·         MPs, peers, councillors, parliamentary staff

·         Barristers at Garden Court Chambers and Six Pump Court

·         Members of the UK Environmental Law Association

·         Wildlife and Countryside Link

·         Friends of the Earth

·         Prof. Joanna Haigh (formerly of Imperial College London)

·         Prof. E. J. Milner-Gulland (University of Oxford)

·         Prof. (Emeritus) Philip Warren (University of Sheffield).

IV. Why we need each section of the new CE Bill

Section1 - Climate and Nature targets together

·         The current 2008 (amended 2019) Climate Act has a target of netzero by 2050. Even if we reach this target, this only gives a 50% chance of limiting the global mean temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The CE Bill commits to reducing overall contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions at a rate that provides a 66% or greater chance of limiting the global mean temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.  

·         Having a temperature target, rather than carbon or greenhouse gas emissions targets, better frames decisions and can flex with new scientific data.

·         Biodiversity loss is as significant as (and interrelated with) climate change with, for instance, the loss of pollinators leading to potential agricultural collapse. The CEE Bill recognises the need for a legally binding nature target to halt and reverse the degradation and loss of nature.

·         The Bill requires government to fulfil obligations under UNFCCC and Paris agreement, Leaders Pledge for Nature and UNCBD – thereby enshrining international agreements in law.

·         The Bill covers emissions and nature degradation that the UK is responsible for in other countries (because of what we import and consume), as well as in the UK.

Section 2 - Strategy and targets

·         There is no current overarching UK Climate and Ecology strategy and, as the CCC has reported in 2021, there are significant gaps in the policy we do have.

·         Various separate laws, policies and strategies by sector currently lead to inconsistent and contradictory decision-making.  

·         Combining action on the interrelated issues of climate and ecology with a science-based approach will help government at all levels bring down emissions while ensuring communities benefit.

·         The strategy will come with financial support for industry transition and protection of livelihoods. 

Section 3 – Public and expert involvement. Building consensus and cohesion

·         A non-political Climate and Nature Assembly will work together with the CCC and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)

·         The Assembly will consider expert advice and recommend measures to be included in the strategy. This process will help to build political consensus and cohesion around the urgent measures that are needed.

Section 4 – Using science and experts to drive action

·         The CCC and the JNCC will have explicit roles to evaluate, monitor and report annually on the implementation of the strategy and achievement of targets.

·         The CCC will recommend annual carbon budgets – rather than the currently used 5 year carbon budgets. This will ensure better oversight and accountability.

·         This will bring more certainty and security to the population, and, crucially, private sector and different layers of government.

Section 6 – Accountability to Parliament

·         The government will report progress to Parliament and this will motivate accountability and improved implementation.

·         Regular accountability will build confidence and stability in the country.

V. How will the people of East Sussex benefit?

In the short to medium term, the Bill will help guide investment in new sustainability jobs, securing a just transition from polluting industries and increase the number of well-paid jobs in the growing sustainability sectors.

East Sussex is at particular risk of a range of extreme weather-induced disasters, not least flooding and tidal surges which affect housing and industry as well infrastructure, such as roads and rail and – like heatwaves and biodiversity loss – can destroy crops, leading to agricultural collapse.

With the adoption of an integrated and clear policy framework, there is a far greater chance that East Sussex will stave off the worst of extreme weather events, and – where this is not possible – implement adaptations in advance of rural, town and county-wide emergencies.

The Bill’s proposal for multi-year funding will ensure East Sussex County Council can more easily plan mitigation and adaptation, providing security in the face of the climate and ecological emergency, across all sectors.










Annex 1: Additional references and information

See the IPPC report – Climate Change 2021, The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers here:

Two short films explaining what the IPCC report is here:

UK Climate Change Committee 2021 Report to Parliament