Climate Change Legislation at the end of 2012

This section reviews the stock of climate change laws following the additions and changes in 2012. It also analyses the diversity of approach and identifies trends, themes and motivations.

The updated country chapters include a total of 286 climate change-related laws in the 33 study countries, according to the definition used. As of December 2012, the European Union has the most climate change related laws with 25, and Jamaica, Nepal and Rwanda the fewest with just three. However, the number of laws relating to climate change is not a reliable indicator of the comprehensive nature of a country’s legislative response.

Some laws are integrative while others are very narrow in scope. The pure numbers mask a wide diversity of approaches to climate change legisla-tion, which we observe at three levels: first, diversity in the national approach to climate change (e.g. pure legislation versus policy approach); second, diversity in the sectoral focus of the study countries; and third, diversity and non-exclusivity in the goals and objectives of the individual pieces of legislation (some laws address several different objectives, for example a single law could cover pricing carbon, energy efficiency and transport).



In order to reflect this and to begin to develop an understanding of emergent patterns in climate change legislation, the authors made several methodological decisions:

  1. continuing to use a broad definition of climate change legislation as per previous GLOBE studies;
  2. developing categories for the legislation that we found;
  3. compiling summary statistics on the legislation using those categories, and determining the sectoral focus in each country; and
  4. beginning to characterise the different national approaches to climate change. At the national level, the broad definition of legislation allows us to capture the diverse approaches to climate change of the study countries.

That is, some coun-tries take a purely legislative approach, having existing stocks of laws and issuing new legislation, whereas others take a more policy-oriented approach that might involve the creation of national development plans that integrate climate change concerns. In a visual summary we have sorted the study countries into four catego-ries which we think broadly describe these various approaches.

While our assessment of where countries fit was informed by our summary statistics on legislation, we do not claim to have quantified the study countries’ relative positions. Moreover, we make neither normative judgments such as whether it is better to have more laws per se; nor any judgments on each country’s listing within each quadrant of the diagram. Rather, we acknowledge that each country has an individual approach which reflects its unique institutional context, capacities, economic characteristics and current level of political engagement with climate change.


Diversity in the sectoral focus

In addition to this national-level strategic pluralism, we observe diversity in the sectoral focus of legislation across countries. Some countries are focussed on a particular sector, fitting that country’s individual circumstances and nationally appropriate management activities. For instance, one country’s climate change legislation may focus more on energy supply legislation, while another may have a stronger focus on land use change and forest policy.

Finally, within the individual pieces of legislation themselves we observe diversity: much of the legislation has multi-sectoral objectives, addressing, for instance, the regulation of land use change and forestry as a mitigation activity, and simultane-ously legislating for adaptation by modifying the areas in which development can take place to reduce the risk and scale of potential impacts. To describe these different objectives we created the following thematic categories for each piece of legislation: Carbon Pricing; Energy Supply; Energy Demand; REDD+ and LULUCF; Transportation; Adaptation; Research and Development; and Institutions/Adminis-trative arrangements.

These categories are not exclusive; many pieces of legislation in this study were adjudged to cover several different categories. Beyond the scope of this study, there is additional action at the sub-national and supra-national levels. For example, there is significant state-level action in federal states such as Brazil, Canada and the US. An example of supra-national action is the decision to link the emissions trading schemes in Australia and the EU.

Continue reading, go to "The Dynamics of Climate Change Legislation"

Continue reading, go to "Timeline of Climate Change Legislation"

Continue reading, go to "Sectoral Coverage and Motivations"