Government advisors make 700 climate recommendations

The UK Climate Change Committee has made 700 recommendations on mitigation and adaptation between 2009-2020, according to a new study led by Harriet Dudley of the Tyndall Centre at UEA.

The UK Climate Change Committee (CCC), established by the 2008 UK Climate Change Act (CCA), monitors, evaluates, reports, and advises on mitigation and adaptation to the UK Parliament and devolved administrations. The CCC is an advisory body; it has no formal powers to implement climate policy or to force governments to implement its advice. However, little is known about the nature of advice they provide.

To understand the CCC better, the researchers analysed the recommendations provided by the CCC to the UK Parliament between 2009-2020 to investigate what advice was provided, to whom and in what form.   The researchers found that the 700 recommendations were addressed to the UK Parliament, local authorities, business, and the devolved legislature in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Over time, the CCC’s recommendations evolved, from focussing only on three sectors – energy, surface transport, and buildings – to including sectors like aviation, shipping, industry, waste, and agriculture/land use.

Additionally, the researchers found the CCC’s recommendations to be more future focussed and cross sectoral. For example, in their 2020 report, the CCC recommended “integrate Net Zero into policy making.” The most repeated recommendations were on waste, aviation, agriculture/land use, and surface transport. Specifically, the CCC repeated recommendations to 1.) ban the landfill of biodegradable waste; 2.) publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions; 3.) develop a framework for monitoring and reducing agricultural emissions; and 4) address barriers to the uptake of electric vehicles.

Including clear targets in policy advice is thought to help drive implementation. However, the researchers found that only 10% of the CCC’s mitigation recommendations included both a target and a timescale and 37% contained neither. For adaptation, 31% of the recommendations contained neither targets nor timescales. However, the study found that the CCC has included more explicit targets in its recommendations over time.

Last, the researchers found that the CCC has become more willing to challenge the policy status quo over time, particularly with respect to the policies and measures needed to deliver society-wide decarbonisation.

“Our findings suggest that the ambitiousness of the CCC’s recommendations has varied over time and across sectors. Repetition has been a notable but little noticed hallmark of the CCC’s work since 2009. Repetition – perhaps understood as tenacity – may be especially important with regards to issues like decarbonisation, which would span multiple decades,” said Harriet.

Harriet’s next research will analyse which of the CCC’s recommendations have been accepted in writing by the UK Government and will trace these responses to see which recommendations have/not been implemented.

Read the full open access article here: Advising national climate policy makers: A longitudinal analysis of the UK Climate Change Committee – ScienceDirect 

Related News

Reframing disaster and recovery stories in India

There is a need to shift portrayals of disaster and recovery to ensure the needs of the most affected are met and that their voices are listened to, according to new research led by Roger Few at the University of East Anglia School of International Development and the Tyndall Centre.

Read More »