National climate change policy is key to a successful international agreement

When it comes to climate change talks the UNFCCC is without a doubt the institution that’s paving the way. Two authors from GLOBE-International and CDKN, however, stress in a new paper “National climate change legislation: The key to more ambitious international agreements” to look beyond these talks and to turn the spotlight on domestic climate  legislation.

The key factor for successful international negotiations is the lively commitment on national policy level. The goals you want to achieve on domestic grounds, are the ones you most likely want to achieve on international as well. This might not come to a surprise at first, but quite often it seems we focus too much on the outcomes of the COP events that we lose sight of the importance of what is happening at home.

Three among a range of countries are primarily distinguished by the authors: South Korea, Mexico, and the UK They have advocated ambitious domestic legislations in terms of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The overall motivation and reasons for them, as identified by the authors, are the same: competitiveness, confidence and knowledge.

I find the last two the most striking ones. Whereas competitiveness is an obvious reason and bound to the countries’ self interest, the last two, confidence and knowledge, are more ‘subtle’  and would not have necessarily crossed my mind first. And yet the authors argue that with a growing dedication to the topic, their knowledge grows around climate change impacts and they become more aware of opportunities associated with low-carbon development. They experience the co-benefits of energy-security, greater efficiency and resiliance, improved air quality and reduced vulnerability to price shocks.

It’s an interesting point of view that these countries are not acting in reaction to an international treaty, but are in fact the enabler of such. Therefore the report concludes that in order to develop a strong international climate treaty in 2015 under the Durban Platform, key countries should until then actively push their national legislations towards strong actions on climate change. Or to put it into the author’s words. Governments should:

  • Encourage the creation of cross-party parliamentary groups on climate change, supported by a dedicated secretariat.
  • Routinely engage with legislators before, during and after the annual UNFCCC meetings (as a minimum) to exchange views and build common understanding.
  • Support international processes to engage legislators, to help inform the development of climate change legislation, promote good practice and develop peer groups.


For reading the full report:



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