Climate Law in the United Kingdom
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There is no single legislative source for the United Kingdom’s legal response to climate change. Initial measures to tax large energy users, enable participation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and encourage renewable electricity generation have subsequently been joined by the Climate Change Acts operating at UK and Scottish levels. These Acts set demanding targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and break new and uncertain legal ground in making these legally binding on Ministers. The targets are supported by detailed reporting mechanisms, to Parliament and the public, that are intended to be the main route to enforcement and by provisions enabling many detailed changes to the law to allow progress towards the targets. The separate legislation in Scotland highlights the difficulties that dealing with pervasive issues, especially those with an European Union and international dimension, pose for by sub-national governments with distinct political ambitions but limited jurisdiction.