For most countries we have been able to identify a flagship law – a piece of legislation or regulation with equivalent status that serves as a comprehensive, unifying basis for climate change policy. Changes in flagship legislation are therefore particularly significant. They constitute a step change in a country’s approach to climate change.
In 2012 four countries passed new flagship legislation, compared with seven in 2011. They are El Salvador, Kenya, Mexico and Pakistan.
In contrast, Canada has repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and therefore no longer has a flagship law on climate change. In addition, we have changed the flagship laws of South Africa and the US.
The South African law is changed from the Vision, Strategic Direction and Framework for Climate Policy (2008) to The National Climate Change Response Strategy (2011).
The USA flagship is changed from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Executive Order 13514 to the Clean Air Act. This reflects the shift away from attempts to develop a comprehensive and dedicated legislative response to climate change towards more of a regulatory approach (see Section 3.2 for discussion of country approaches), following the ruling by the Supreme Court that CO2 should be classified as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and the progress made by the EPA in 2012.
Table 1 below provides a summary of “flagship legislation” in all 33 countries. The final column displays an assessment of legislative progress in 2012. The assessment takes into account laws passed, major legislative proposals that, although not yet passed, signal the general direction of travel in the legislature and progress with implementation of existing legislation.