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Climate laws: frameworks to help governments become climate neutral

Net-Zero 2050
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EU
| 04.02.2020

A new study by Ecologic Institute analyses the national climate laws in eight EU Member States (France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) and in the UK. It identifies a set of common elements and good practices that can inform national climate laws and the debate on an EU climate law.

In order to manage the mammoth task of rewiring their economic structures to become climate neutral, governments worldwide need new tools to organise their actions and are increasingly turning to national climate laws as an answer.

Climate Law Report Cover

The report outlines a set of elements in climate laws that help ensure an effective governance system:

  • Targets: clear quantitative and long-term targets;
  • Planning & measures: a mandatory climate planning that makes the connection between long-term planning and near-term policies;
  • Progress monitoring: Regular annual reporting and progress checks to trigger additional action if gaps are identified;
  • Institutional arrangements: Assigning responsibilities to the relevant institutions (ministries and parliaments);
  • Scientific Advice: Involvement of an independent scientific advisory; 
  • Public Participation: This can take various forms – the example of the citizens assembly in France was followed by Spain and the UK;
  • Long-term element: Several laws have made the structural change implied by the long-term focus a clear priority that they communicate.

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A climate law is the perfect tool to give a clear signal to all sectors of the economy that governments are serious about their long-term climate goal. This will not only give companies the investment and planning security they need but it will also enhance transparency of governmental action.
Matthias Duwe, author of the report, Ecologic Institute

Today, half of all EU Member States have already adopted such a law  - with cross-party support - or are preparing one, while many more are considering it. 

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The UK approach, for instance, has turned out to create a certain resistance to political shocks – and government changes. A mere month after the Brexit referendum in 2016, the British Parliament adopted its fifth emissions budget for the period 2028 to 2032. Setting emission budgets twelve years in advance guarantees, on the one hand, that the reduction targets are geared to the long-term climate protection target and not to current political debates. This enables an objective discussion based on climate policy needs. On the other hand, it gives companies the investment and planning security they need.

 

About the Net-Zero 2050 initiative

Nz2050 Logo TransparentThe Net-Zero 2050 is a new initiative of the European Climate Foundation with contributions from a consortium of experts and organisations funded by the ECF.

The objective of Net-Zero 2050 is to start building a vision and evidence base for the transition to net-zero emission societies in Europe and beyond, by midcentury at the latest. The Paris Agreement commits us to make this transition, and long-term strategic planning shows that many of the decisions and actions needed to get us on track must be taken without delay. Reports in the series seek to enhance understanding of the implications and opportunities of moving to climate neutrality across the power, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture, Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sectors; to shed light on some of the near-term choices and actions needed to reach this goal, and to provide a basis for discussion and engagement with stakeholders and policy-makers.

With acknowledgement of the source, reproduction of all or part of the publication is authorised, except for commercial purposes.