National climate change legislation: The key to more ambitious international agreements?
This report urges readers to look beyond what happens within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – where countries are negotiating toward a new climate treaty. The authors assess how the building blocks for ambition within the UNFCCC are laid at home.
They argue that countries with lively policy debates around climate change and ambitious domestic legislation (here defined in terms of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) carry that ambition over into the international arena. They show how a range of countries, their primary examples being South Korea, Mexico, and the UK, have enacted robust domestic targets and gone on to champion collective action. It seems logical for governments that show domestic climate leadership to carry this leadership onto the global stage. Townshend and Matthews examine three main reasons why this happens: competitiveness, confidence and knowledge.
The report concludes that national climate change legislation is not just something that should underpin an international agreement after it has been reached; rather, it is an enabler that creates the political space for a deal. National legislation could even form the basis of an “outcome with legal force” in 2015 under the Durban Platform, say the authors. With this possibility in mind, it follows that the advancement of national legislation in key countries, combined with strengthened engagement of legislators, should be actively supported between now and 2015.
Townshend, T.; Matthews, A.C.T. National climate change legislation: The key to more ambitious international agreements? (2013) 8 pp.