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Title: The origins, design and implementation of the UK Climate Change Act 2008
Author: Byrne, Adam James George
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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National approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation have a central role to play alongside international law and policy and sub-national initiatives. The UK Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA) was one of the first examples of comprehensive climate change legislation in the world. In its original form, the law committed the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, created a 'Carbon Budget' system of intermediary targets, created a procedure for adapting to climate change and established the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an expert advisory body to the UK Government and the devolved countries. In 2019, recent scientific and political developments resulted in a new net zero target being set for 2050. This thesis attempts to understand why the UK responded to the challenge with legislation, why the law was designed in the way that it was and how it has been implemented. The thesis is primarily based on research interviews with a range of actors (politicians, civil servants, experts) conducted between February 2016 and July 2017, with complementary analysis of the law and relevant documents from the Government and the CCC. The approach of the thesis reflects the design of the CCA and applies social science and environmental law theory and scholarship on the relationship between law/policy, politics and science/expertise, especially principles of legal design and the idea of co-production. The research chapters focus on: the period of advocating for better approaches to climate change in the years 2000-2005; the establishment of the NGO campaign, the 'Big Ask' and its effect on government; the political process; the design of the CCA; the role of pre-legislative and legislative (parliamentary) scrutiny; the setting up of the CCC; the implementation of the CCA, specifically the influence of the Carbon Budget system; and the influence, functioning and advice of the CCC. The thesis juxtaposes the desire for the depoliticisation of climate change in the UK and the reality of a highly politically mediated process. The CCA and the CCC reflects a pragmatic response to the challenges of climate change for policy in the UK and appears to have had some influence on Government decision-making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available