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Legislators racing to enact laws before Copenhagen

October 26, 2009


Legislators from the major economies representing all major political parties are poised this weekend to decide on key guiding principles to enact climate change legislation in their respective countries. During the Copenhagen Forum organized by Globe International, legislators are expected to agree on critical principles on energy standards, forestry preservation, and renewable energy that could see 70 per cent of the emissions cuts needed by 2020 if we are to limit average temperature rise to 2 degrees C. These principles include standardized action on building and appliance standards; renewable energy; vehicle fuel and efficiency standards; and forestry. Such coordinated action – especially in areas like domestic, transportation and industrial energy efficiency – will result in cost savings and increased competitiveness. Coordinated action on appliance and fuel standards will create huge economies of scale, sending a “market signal” that cannot be ignored. Together, these actions will drive the move to a global low carbon economy.
Other principles that legislators will agree to push through their own parliaments include laws that bind national governments to short, medium and long-term targets for emissions; a commitment to “climate compatibility assessments” for major government policies; a duty on Governments to report to parliament regularly on their progress in meeting targets; and a commitment to a regular review to ensure that policies are consistent with the latest science.
These principles, if enacted in law across domestic parliaments, would make a significant step towards limiting global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius – the limit that scientists see as critical to avoid devastating runaway climate change. Legislators hope that by demonstrating that these emissions savings are possible, this move will give leaders the confidence to take on more ambitious targets.
Congressman Markey, sponsor of the Waxman-Markey Bill in the House of Representatives, is publishing a paper about the nature of a deal in Copenhagen in December that will be personally presented to the host of the COP 15 Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
The policy measures that Congressman Markey will propose to the COP15 include:
  1. The COP15 should agree to emissions targets for developed countries for 2030 and 2040 in addition to 2020 and 2050.
  2. Deforesting countries must be given incentives to make immediate and dramatic reductions in their deforestation rates by paying them credits dependent on their performance against an agreed “reference emissions” rate agreed on a country-by-country basis.
  3. A “protect and share” framework for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) should be established in which financing would be provided to developing countries to strengthen their domestic IPR protection regimes in return for government-to-government guarantees that investors’ rights would be protected.
  4. A strengthened international monitoring and verification system should be introduced that applies to all countries.
  5. At least $100 billion per year in financial assistance will be needed in financial assistance from developed countries to meet the cost of adaptation to a changed climate in developing countries and to pay for their transition to a low-carbon economy.
The Copenhagen forum will also provide an opportunity to “politically test” ideas with high-level politicians ahead of the COP15 on issues ranging from how climate financing should be organised, to the level of medium-term target emissions cuts that developed countries should commit themselves. Most importantly, an ambitious statement from legislators will be a boost to negotiators at the COP 15 at a time when there are doubts about whether such a deal is possible, and will keep up the pressure on Governments.
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