The United Kingdom signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change in June 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit and ratified it in December 1993. In January 1994 it published its first UK Programme on Climate Change, identifying its obligations and commitments to help tackle the problem of global warming. In 2000 the UK Government has undertaken a major reappraisal of the Climate Change Programme. It attempts to explain:
- why the climate is changing and what its effects might be;
- how the international community has responded, with agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol;
- the leading role the UK has played internationally and in Europe;
- how the Government and the devolved administrations plan to deliver the UK's legally binding target under the Kyoto Protocol of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012, and move towards the domestic goal of a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2010;
- what action the UK might need to take to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
Effective action to tackle climate change needs a partnership approach. The UK is already working closely with its partners in the European Union. At the national level, the Programme reflects a partnership between the Government and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, it builds on the commitment and action of businesses, local authorities, pressure groups and trade unions, as well as the response of the public. There is a real consensus in the UK on the need for action to tackle global warming and a real determination to deliver change.
Action taken in the UK throughout the 1990s has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The present Government and the devolved administrations are continuing this positive approach with a substantial programme of integrated policies and measures which will deliver further cuts in emissions. These include a climate change levy or carbon tax on energy, the development of low-carbon technologies, an increase in the proportion of electricity provided by renewable sources to 10% by 2010, energy efficiency improvements in homes and in the public sector, an integrated transport policy to cut congestion and reduce pollution, and an awareness-raising campaign called "Are You Doing Your Bit?" to enhance the public's understanding of their impacts on climate change.