The Climate Change Act 2021 is a new piece of primary legislation which has been approved by Tynwald and received Royal Assent.
The Act has four main functions in relation to climate change:
- Setting targets
- Setting standards
- Enabling action
- Ensuring accountability
- The Act sets the Island ‘net zero by 2050’ target in law
This target can be met through a combination of reducing our emissions and increasing the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, often called ‘sequestration’.
- The Act creates an obligation for the Government to set an interim target by 1 April 2022
An interim target is a percentage reduction in emissions by a certain date. Setting targets along the way to 2050 will help focus effort and enable on-going monitoring of progress.
- The Act requires a Climate Change Plan to be in place by 1 April 2022 and at all times until 2050
The Government’s Climate Change Plans will set out the policies and proposals for reducing emissions over a five year period.
To ensure that our transition to a low carbon society is well managed and fair, the Act creates obligations for Government and other public bodies.
- Just transition and climate justice principles
Action to reduce emissions must be taken in a way which promotes a thriving economy, supports the most vulnerable and does not contribute to inequality.
- Sustainable development
The UN sustainable development goals cover a wide range of subjects from eradicating poverty and hunger to promoting responsible consumption and quality education. Manx climate action must support these goals.
- Protecting and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services
The global biodiversity crisis and the climate change emergency are closely linked. Action to reduce emissions must also protect and enhance our living environment.
Some actions to reduce emissions do not require legislation, and others can be achieved using laws that already exist. The Climate Change Act provides a framework for action and additional powers where they are needed.
The Act provides powers for the Government
- to make secondary legislation – for example, regulations relating to the use fossil fuels
- to apply relevant UK legislation – if the legislation would be useful to the Island.
The Act also amends certain existing legislation to remove barriers and enable action. For example, making changes to the Forest Act 1984 to enhance protection of peatland which stores carbon dioxide.
The Act provides a legal framework for planning, monitoring and reporting the Island’s emissions reductions.
The Government must produce a report:
- every year on the progress which has been made towards actions set out in the Climate Change Plan
- every five years on emissions, based on annual emissions calculations
Public bodies must act in a way that contributes to achieving the targets and supporting the standards set out in the Act and will be required to report on how they have done this.
The Act supports transparency in climate action; all reporting under the Act must be published.