The report lays down policies aimed at fostering carbon neutrality in the UK by 2050 and supporting Paris Agreement pledges.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 9 December 2020, the UK Climate Change Committee (the Committee) published its 6th Carbon Budget (the Budget), as required under the Climate Change Act. The Budget provides ministers with advice on the volume of greenhouse gases the UK can emit during the period 2033-2037 and also contains policies designed to place the UK on track to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The Budget comes in the context of the UK bolstering its climate ambitions ahead of hosting the COP26 in Glasgow next year, as the Prime Minister has recently committed to cutting emissions by at least 68% from 1990 levels by 2030. The Government also published a ten-point plan aimed at boosting the green economy.

The government provides further details on UK carbon pricing after Brexit.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 14 July 2020, the UK government published the draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Order 2020 (the Order), establishing a framework for the potential UK Emissions Trading System (UK ETS). Subsequently, on 21 July 2020, the government published a consultation on the operation of a potential new carbon emissions tax.

France announces voluntary adoption of a new law amending the Mining Code to meet Paris Agreement commitments.

By Paul Davies and Michael Green*

Background

After lengthy legislative debates, the amended Mining Code (MC) now provides that, as a matter of principle, the research and exploitation of coal, and of all liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons, shall be gradually phased out and then banned (Art. L.111-6§1). If liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons are “related” to deposits of substances not affected by the ban, then the title holder cannot exploit these either and must leave them untouched (Art. L.111-6§2). One exception to the ban is “mine gases” (i.e., gases located in formerly exploited coal seams for which recovery requires only necessary intervention to maintain mining cavities under low pressure for suctioning such gases) (Art. L.111-5).

To assist with the phase out and ban, the government has introduced measures to help title holders transition to an alternative use. As such, four years prior to the expiration of their permits, affected title holders may also apply to convert their permits to allow the exploitation of other substances or other uses of the sub-soil. In order to qualify for permit conversion, title holders must demonstrate both that: (i) the new substance or new use is “related” to the hydrocarbons present in the deposit; and (ii) the pursuit of the exploitation of such deposit is necessary to secure its profitability (Art. L.111-7).