Over 1,200 laws worldwide tackling climate change

164 countries worldwide have enacted more than 1,200 climate-related laws since 1997. This includes 93 of the top 100 emitters.

More and more countries are backing their Paris pledges with national laws, according to new research from the London School of Economics (LSE). In a comprehensive analysis of global climate change legislation, the researchers found that 1,200 climate-related laws have been enacted globally since 1997 in 164 countries, up from 99 countries in 2015.

Since the Paris climate change summit in December 2015, 14 news laws and 33 new executive policies related to climate change have been introduced.

“These developments in climate legislation and policies since Paris should be taken in context,” said Professor Samuel Fankhauser, co-director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, explaining that the new laws and policies represent “a twentyfold increase in the number of climate laws and policies over 20 years when compared with 1997 when there were just 60 such laws in place.”

The new analysis released this week also provides an update on the progress some G20 countries have made since November 2016 when the Paris Agreement came into force.

Canada, for instance, has introduced legislation on clean growth and climate change, and Argentina has decided to create the National Climate Change Cabinet, whose main task will be to prepare a national plan on responding to climate change with a focus on mitigation and adaptation in the most vulnerable sectors. China for its part has announced a new five-year plan with emission peak targets and energy efficiency targets.

Many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have also taken initial steps to consolidate their approach to climate change.

“We are witnessing serious and significant support for the Paris Agreement from across countries and continents and from cities and businesses to civil society,” said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, on this week’s figures.

“Some point to new, green investment flows and others to the growing penetration of clean energies as evidence of remarkable positive change.”

But despite the progress, legislative gaps still remain. For instance, only 42 per cent of countries have factored climate change into their development plans, and the least developed countries as a group have fewer laws and policies compared to the global average.


Photo credit: charamelody, flickr/Creative Commons

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