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Climate Legislation Advances in 16 major countries: Says new study

Jake Schmidt

Posted April 26, 2011 in Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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A new study released by GLOBE international – a coalition of legislators from around the world – found that:  “climate change is featuring prominently on the legislative agenda across the 16 major economies.“   The study, conducted by the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics documents the kinds of actions that countries are taking at home to reduce their emissions.  While it doesn’t tell us the impact of those measures, it does show a growing commitment of countries to change their laws, policies, and regulations to address their carbon pollution.  This is a focus that recently emerged at the global warming negotiations when developed and developing countries presented details on the actions they are taking to meet their commitments to reduce emissions.  These are the kinds of actions that are essential to addressing global warming as we ultimately need countries acting, not just saying they’ll act.

While not intended to be a full list of all the measures that a country is taking – they don’t include state/provincial measures – the report does provide a good glimpse into the actions in these 16 countries (the report provides good details for each country).  The countries documented are the biggest emitting countries and collectively account for over 70% of the world’s emissions so the actions that they take at home are crucial to solving this challenge.   Here is a quick summary of the types of actions that these countries are taking and the coverage of those actions (see table).

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As the report notes:

“This activity suggests that the difficult talks in Copenhagen, and the subsequent slow progress in the formal negotiations, has not diminished countries’ appetite for developing climate change legislation, perhaps recognising that many of the actions required to reduce emissions and to adapt to a changing climate, are directly in the national interest.” 

This is a very positive development as countries are now motivated by self-interest to act.  The global negotiations put a spotlight on this action and reinforce the need for countries to come prepared with commitments and actions.  A dynamic that played out in many countries in the lead-in to Copenhagen as countries knew that the spotlight would be on them so needed to come prepared with real commitments to address their carbon pollution.

In the lead-in to the next annual high-level global warming negotiations in Durban, South Africa let’s hope that countries don’t lose sight of what ultimately matters: what actions countries are taking at home and what kind of impacts are those actions having in reducing carbon pollution.

They’ll have another chance in Durban, South Africa this December and then in June 2012 when world leaders meet at the Rio+20 Earth Summit to take further steps to deploy clean energy, improve their energy efficiency, and reduce deforestation emissions.  I hope they take advantage of these opportunities as the spotlight will be on them.

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Comments

PaulApr 27 2011 10:02 AM

Any thoughts on why Australia and New Zealand were left off this list?

Jake SchmidtApr 27 2011 10:11 AM

Paul,

I assume they focused on the biggest emitters to save time. I don't think it is a reflection of the lack or policies. Nor is inclusion of recognition that these are the best countries with real policies.

Jake SchmidtApr 27 2011 10:14 AM

I should add that inclusion in this report doesn't mean that you are implementing these policies effectively or that your policies add up to your commitments. That is ultimately the most critical question, which everyone will have to ask in the coming years.

So for example a country like Canada is listed, but currently has energy policies -- tar sands expansion -- which is dramatically increasing its emissions. The US has a mixed bag of policies -- positive and negative ones -- given the lack of a clear energy/climate policy. China has a strong commitment and is still developing the policies to meet that commitment, but the judgement on their actions will have to come later. And so on.

LarryApr 30 2011 12:10 PM

MADRID - Wind power became Spain's main source of electricity for the first time ever this month, in a country renowned for its focus on renewable energy, the power-generating authority REE said Thursday.

"Wind farms accounted for 21 percent of demand and reached a monthly record," 5.0 percent more than in March 2010, it said in a statement.

Overall, renewable energy provided 42.2 percent of electricity demand, a figure that was down 48.5 percent in March 2010, REE said.

Hydro energy accounted for 17.3 percent during the month, solar energy 2.6 percent, nuclear 19 percent and coal-powered electricity 12.9 percent.

"With wind energy production in March, we could cover the monthly electricity consumption of a country the size of Portugal," the country's association of wind farms, AEE, said in a statement.

"This historic milestone reached by wind energy shows that this energy source, as well as being indigenous, clean and increasingly competitive, is also capable of providing three million Spanish households," said AEE president Jose Donoso.

AEE said the growth in wind energy was "the main reason why 2010 was the first year in which Spain was a (net) exporter of electricity along with France."

Spain was the fourth largest producer of wind energy in 2009 due to the government's policy of supporting the sector in recent years.


by M.J. Smith
(c) 2011 AFP

Source : AFP
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