WASHINGTON Feb 27 An explosion in the number of
laws passed around the world aimed at confronting climate change
in the last 20 years was hailed on Thursday as a step toward
building support for a United Nations climate treaty to be
negotiated in 2015.
Countries that together account for most global greenhouse
gas emissions have passed nearly 500 laws since the Kyoto
Protocol climate treaty was signed in 1992, with emerging
economies leading many of the recent efforts, according to a
report released by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE)
and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of
Prior to the treaty, fewer than 40 laws addressing climate
were on the books.
Much of the major legislative action on climate change in
2013 took place in countries like China and Mexico, whose
economies are growing rapidly.
The report was launched on Thursday in Washington to an
audience of over 100 legislators from 50 countries in the U.S.
Senate's Kennedy Caucus Room.
The U.N. climate treaty to be negotiated next year is
expected to consist of pledges of specific actions, or
"contributions," from nearly 200 countries, aimed at reducing
Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who had
co-authored a comprehensive climate-change bill when he was a
U.S. representative, said the study should encourage the U.S.
Congress to enact its own climate legislation. The bill
co-authored by Markey had passed the House of Representatives in
2009 but died in the Senate a year later.
"We need an international movement to pass climate
legislation, and nowhere is that movement needed more than here
in the United States," Markey said.
Others at the report's launch, including House Democratic
leader Nancy Pelosi, said that with the U.S. House now
controlled by Republicans and the Senate run by Democrats,
efforts at legislation are likely to be stymied by policy
"Action in Congress right now is unfortunately not in the
cards," said Todd Stern, the U.S. State Department's special
envoy on climate change and lead U.S. climate negotiator.
The U.S. will achieve emissions cuts through executive
action taken by the administration, he added.
The United States is pushing for a new approach to the
climate treaty; under the previous, the requirement for
unanimous consent made it difficult to agree to any changes.
Among the requirements envisioned by the United States for
countries' contributions to the global pact are that they
conform to a common timeframe with other countries, and be
specific, quantified and quantifiable.
The United States' vision also would rely on countries'
domestic authorities enforcing their contributions, since
Congress is unlikely to ratify any new international treaty.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said on Thursday it
is too early to predict what governments will agree to at the
2015 climate summit in Paris.
"It is clear that they are going to have a draft in Paris
that will be robust, give certainty and be politically
digestible in all countries," she told reporters.
Several preliminary meetings of climate negotiators are on
the agenda. The next will take place next month in Bonn, and in
September, heads of state will be invited to participate in a
high level climate summit hosted by U.N. Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon in New York.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Ros Krasny and