Climate Change 

Page updated:

Major revision Autumn 2017 


CC001 The Climate Emergency is the greatest issue of our time. It is a global crisis demanding a global response. The UK should play a leading role by strengthening international agreements and rapidly reducing its own emissions.

The Global Crisis

CC011 We face a climate emergency. Earth’s climate is already changing at unprecedented speed, exemplified by higher temperatures, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and more frequent and severe floods, droughts, and storms. The consequences of the climate emergency already include wars, starvation, disease, desertification and forced migration; not to mention species extinction. The UK itself has seen increased flooding.

CC012 The Climate Emergency is caused by the release of greenhouse gases, and is already set to get worse. Unless it is checked, there is a real danger that positive feedback will lead to rapid, runaway effects.

CC013 The Climate Emergency is a global problem and can only be tackled by global action. Such action must be based on the work of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and especially on the Paris Agreement of 2015 (which the UK has ratified). We support the aims of the Agreement to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. In aggregate, the national emissions plans (NDCs Nationally Determined Contributions) will not meet the aims of the Agreement.

CC014 As the first country to industrialise and a major emitter of greenhouse gases over many decades the UK bears a particular responsibility. It should:

  1. Act as an advocate for the Paris Agreement.
  2. Increase its Paris Agreement commitments on emissions reductions, climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer.
  3. Make the case for compensation for climate-related loss and damage and begin to pay such compensation.
  4. Advocate an emergency international agreement to conserve and enhance carbon sinks and reservoirs including forests, peatfields and coastal and estuarine areas.
  5. Reduce, by international collaboration, the emissions associated with its imports.
  6. Support the Sustainable Development Goals.

CC015 The UK should base its future emissions budgets on the principles of science and equity and the aim of keeping global warming below 1.5 C. These principles entail the UK reducing its own emissions to net zero by 2030 and seeking to reduce the emissions embedded in its imports to zero as soon as possible. The urgency of these objectives requires the UK to make overcoming the technological, political and social obstacles a national priority.

CC016 A zero carbon society in the UK should be achieved through action in the UK and not through international carbon trading or offsets.

CC017 In addition to its mitigation efforts, the UK should create an adaptation programme which ensures the safety of its citizens, as well as of key property and infrastructure.

UK Domestic Emissions

CC100 To reduce its domestic emissions the UK requires a centrally-led transformation programme which will involve substantial state funding and require changes in the behaviour of ordinary citizens. To gain public consent for the necessary changes the government should conduct a major public education campaign.

CC101 The transformation needed for the climate emergency mitigation will provide significant benefits. In the short-term the work needed will provide economic stimulus and satisfying and secure work for many workers. In the longer term there will be substantial improvements in health and wellbeing.


CC110 For clear accountability the UK should:

  • Strengthen the Climate Change Act to require the Committee on Climate Change to set budgets on the basis of the need to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, respect for climate science and equity.
  • Create a strategic Climate Emergency Agency directly responsible to the Prime Minister. It will have the power of veto over any government policies that are inconsistent with our climate emergency targets.
  • Require all public bodies and businesses to define their own adaptation plans and Locally-Determined Contributions (LDCs) to the climate emergency mitigation.

Demand reduction

CC120 To reduce the demand for high-carbon products and services, especially space heating, travel and meat consumption, UK policy should encourage small families, a circular economy, less avoidable consumption and a shift to low carbon products, services and processes.

CC121 To drive change throughout society the UK should combine a carbon tax and dividend with publicity campaigns and possible carbon rationing. For instance, it should require all adverts for high carbon products, including food, to carry an ‘environmental health warning’. The carbon tax would reflect all emissions of greenhouse gases, not just CO2. It should have a progressive element to deter high individual emitters.

Energy efficiency

CC130 To improve energy efficiency the UK should:

  • Invest heavily in energy efficiency in all sectors, especially in housing (including funding for retrofitting), industry and transport.
  • Set energy efficiency standards for vehicles, appliances and equipment at the best currently available and tighten them progressively thereafter.

Decarbonise the energy system

CC140 To decarbonise the energy system the UK should:

  • Switch its sources of energy system from fossil fuels to renewables by changing incentives and by direct investment.
  • Greatly increase the use of electricity, expand the grid and develop heat networks.
  • To provide resilience it should implement interconnectors with overseas electricity systems, a smart grid and a variety of energy storage systems.

CC141 It should also convert to less intensive agriculture and convert grassland to forest where possible. There should be transitional arrangements and compensation for farmers where appropriate.


CC150 To encourage long-term ecological thinking in the finance sector the UK should:

  • Require full disclosure of the climate-related risks on all investments.
  • Require all managers of pension and investment funds based in the UK to divest themselves of holdings in fossil fuel companies, most urgently from coal.

Capturing greenhouse gases

CC160 The UK should develop, and expect to deploy, systems to remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the air and from the exhaust from industrial processes such as cement making. This will require investment in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) systems which may also need to be used with some power plants.

R&D and pilots

CC170 The UK should fund R&D and pilot projects in key emerging technologies such as NETs, Solar Radiation Management and artificial meat.

The long-term

CC200 In the long-term the UK should seek to reduce the need for people and goods to travel by a new approach to planning that will place work, living, retail and leisure facilities close together.

Other chapters

CC300 The Climate Emergency is also covered in the following chapters of the PSS:

  • Countryside
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Europe
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Housing
  • Industry
  • International
  • Local Planning and Built Environment
  • Marine and Coastal
  • Pollution
  • Transport


The Climate Emergency chapter updates:


No amendments have been made since the last major update (Autumn 2017)

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