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Britain urges European neighbours to adopt UK-style climate

The British government has teamed up with a number of green groups to promote the UK's Climate Change Act across Europe as part of a campaign to get other countries to introduce similar legislation.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working closely with Friends of the Earth, which masterminded the original campaign for a UK climate change act, to stage a series of workshops at Embassies across Europe to provide civil servants and business execs with an introduction to the legislation.

Events have already taken place in Budapest, Madrid and last week Berlin, while a workshop is also scheduled for Dublin later this week, with further meetings planned for Poland, The Hague and several other European capitals (full disclosure: presented at the Berlin event).

Officials said that the workshops have been well received, and growing numbers of countries are continuing to emulate the UK's approach and passing carbon emission targets and budgets into law.

The UK Climate Change Act was passed in 2008 and binds successive governments to delivering against the target of cutting emissions 80 per cent by 2050. It also enabled the formation of the independent Committee on Climate Change, and requires governments to set five-year carbon budgets, which they are required to comply with.

Speaking at the Berlin event, Mike Childs, head of climate campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said that versions of the successful Big Ask campaign that preceded the UK Climate Change Act were now up and running in 16 EU countries and Japan. He added that the campaigns were being well received and that support for the wider rollout of climate change bills was building.

"It is very difficult for reasonable people to oppose the introduction of a climate bill," he said. "We know climate change is happening, the bill is structured in a way so that it is not draconian, and it gives businesses the certainty they need to invest in low carbon."

Germany in particular is seriously considering developing a climate change bill, with WWF leading a campaign to see the country's voluntary target of cutting emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 placed on the statute book.

Dr Patrick Graichen, an official at the Federal Environment Ministry, the BMU, revealed that a climate bill was being considered and could be proposed as early as next year. "Our priority at the moment is preparing for Copenhagen, but moving into 2010 there are lots of options on the table and a climate change act could be one," he said.

Childs said that the introduction of a Climate Change Act in the UK had " completely changed the machinery of government in relation to climate change" - a view echoed by James Hughes, head of carbon budgets policy and offsetting at the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), who said that the need for the government to report annually on its progress was driving "continuous improvement" across government. "The reporting dates are very important," he said. "They leave no scope for inertia."

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