Prospects for climate agreement boosted by survey of national laws

UN officials and legislators attend the GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit in Washington DC. Photo: UNEP

28 February 2014 – Sixty-six countries have legislation governing climate mitigation and adaptation plans, revealed a newly released United Nations-supported study that aims to boost progress towards a new universal agreement on climate change.

Results of the study, co-authored by the UN and World Bank-supported Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE), were disclosed yesterday to legislators and senior UN officials in Washington DC. The new study covers countries responsible for 88 per cent of global carbon emissions. It shows that of those 66 countries, 64 “have progressed or are progressing” on climate change, according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

“It is no exaggeration to say that the clean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement.”

The meeting comes 18 months ahead global legal climate accord to be signed in Paris. To build momentum and mobilize political will for those talks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a climate change summit this September at UN Headquarters in New York. That meeting will be an opportunity for global leaders from Government, business, finance, and civil society to initiate ambitious joint actions on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience.

At the meeting, held earlier this week, in addition to reviewing the study, participants also discussed how national laws will be recognized within a 2015 international climate change agreement.

“At the national level, it is clear that when countries enact clean energy policies, investment follows. At the international level, it is equally clear that domestic legislation opens the political space for international agreements and facilitates overall ambition,” Ms. Figueres noted.

In addition to Ms. Figueres, the UN was also represented by the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Achim Steiner and the UN Assistant Secretary-General, Robert Orr.

Among the 66 countries covered in the study, two began processes to reverse legislation. In Australia, the new Government proposed to repeal aspects of the Clean Energy Act, while Japan announced a lowering of its ambition on climate change in response to its reduced reliance on nuclear energy following the Fukushima accident.


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