Climate framework laws have had apositive impact on the reform of national climate governance systems and on climate action” in Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand, according to a new report published today (14 March 2024) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Impacts of Climate Framework Laws: Lessons from Germany, Ireland and New Zealand’, provides an analysis of the impact of climate framework laws in three case study countries. For the report, the authors conducted over 70 expert interviews with legislators, political advisors, civil society, media and other stakeholders.  

In all three case study countries most interviewees thought that the framework established by their respective laws has strengthened political focus on climate concerns. 

67% of interviewees felt that the laws had positively impacted climate governance, strengthening coordination and whole-of-government responses to the climate crisis and making governments more accountable for climate action, while 58% felt the laws had a positive impact on political debate. However, only 40% thought it had a positive impact on the wider population.    

Nearly 60 countries around the world have introduced climate change framework laws, which establish the strategic direction for national climate change policy and often set up institutional arrangements for the countries’ climate policy responses. As the global stock of climate change framework laws increases, it is more critical than ever for policymakers and the research community to understand the impacts of such legislation.  

Across all three countries, interviewees felt that, to some extent, the climate law can help protect against significant backsliding on long-term targets, but ultimately, the legislation alone cannot guarantee measures to meet such targets without sustained political will. 

In the report the authors warn that “shortcomings in the legislative design and changes in the political commitment to climate action can weaken the effectiveness of climate legislation.”  

 They also state that “climate laws can contribute indirectly to enhancing public awareness and support for climate action, but this requires explicit provisions on public participation and targeted communication and engagement efforts.”  

Alina Averchenkova, Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said: 

“Our study clearly shows that, when designed well, a climate law can be an effective tool to tackle the core climate governance challenges, political short-termism, piecemeal policy planning, and weak accountability for implementation.  

“To be effective in this, the laws should include key building blocks, such as a long-term net zero target, interim targets or carbon budgets, and requirements for emission reductions plans, regular reporting, assessment and independent reviews of progress.”  

“Legislators must be alive to the fact that current laws do not sufficiently provide for public participation. This should be corrected to increase a sense of national ownership and shared understanding of the benefits of the transition, which is essential to prevent social backlash against climate action.”   


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