Thursday, September 4, 2014

National Laws and a Global Climate Agreement

National laws are an important precursor to a UN climate agreement. Countries around the world are passing legislation ahead of the UN climate meeting in Paris scheduled for the end of 2015. These laws are essential for an international agreement. While some nations are passing comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) legislation others have passed sector-specific laws to tackle emissions.

A GLOBE International and CDKN Study found that there was a correlation between strong climate change legislation and high ambition at international climate talks. The study found that a total of almost 500 national climate change laws have been passed in 66 countries, according to the 2014 GLOBE Climate Legislation Study. All developed and major economies are expected to deliver emission reduction targets to the UN by the end of March 2015.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to cut carbon from the power sector by 30 percent. However, passing climate and energy legislation in the US is impossible for the foreseeable future. Consequently the Obama administration has come up with a clever approach for a national climate strategy that unlike a treaty does not require the approval of the Senate.

One European nation that is emerging as a climate leader is France. The county has proposed a bill that will radically reduce greenhouse gases a total of 75 percent by 2050.

No nation has shown more climate leadership than Finland. On June 6 Finland approved a proposal for a National Climate Act that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions a total of 80 percent by 2050.

The UK government was the first to pass emissions reduction legislation in 2008 and they recently reiterated their plans to cut GHGs under its climate change act. Earlier this summer Denmark ratified a plan that will reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2020.

The EU will meet in October to finalize their climate and energy framework to 2030. Part of this initiative is an EU wide Emissions Trading Scheme that focuses on European energy and industry.

Senior Chinese officials indicated that they are working on proposals to cap emissions as are Ireland, South Korea, Mexico and Vietnam

At a UN meeting in Mexico earlier this year a resolution was passed by the majority of the 400 MPs present. These representatives hailed from 80 countries and they agreed to push for tougher climate legislation in their domestic parliaments.

The UN has released a set of guidelines for governments to follow when submitting their ‘nationally determined contributions’ to a proposed UN climate deal.

Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s climate body, said that legislation was key in carrying forward a “clean revolution”.

She said: "Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement."

Related Articles
Denmark's Climate Change Bill
Obama's End Run Around the Senate to Secure a Climate Deal
Finland's New Legislation will Reduce Emissions by 80%
Why France is a Global Climate Leader
The Sustainability Yearbook 2013 Leading Countries

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