Climate change: a framework for a global agreement in 2015
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 30 January 2014 (8th Sitting) (see Doc. 13362, report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and
Sustainable Development, rapporteur: Mr John Prescott). Text adopted by the Assembly on
30 January 2014 (8th Sitting).
1. Climate change is one of the greatest
threats our society faces. It threatens human settlements and natural
habitats, economic stability, the availability of resources for
development and, ultimately, human lives. As the scientific findings
of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attest,
there is clear evidence that the climate is changing, and that this
is largely as a result of human activities. This process risks becoming
unstoppable and irreversible in the absence of united, coherent
and determined action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Our success, or failure, in tackling climate change will shape
the world we leave for future generations. If we succeed, we will
not only safeguard our planet’s resources, but also unleash immense
economic opportunities for sustainable development, quality job
creation and action against poverty. If we fail, the disruption
to the global climate, the environment, biodiversity and human well-being
will be unprecedented.
3. The international community has recognised the scale of the
challenge by adopting the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions-reduction targets
for industrialised countries for the period 2008-2012. Even though
the Kyoto Protocol was extended to a second commitment period from
2013 to 2020, most major economies do not have any formal or specific commitments
between now and 2020.
4. The clock is ticking and the cost of inaction is growing.
Under the Durban Platform, which was agreed in 2011, countries decided
to begin negotiations on a new international agreement “with legal
force” to become effective in 2020 and for those negotiations to
be completed by 2015. The Parliamentary Assembly urges all European
heads of State and government to show leadership in these negotiations
and to work towards ensuring the adoption of an ambitious global
agreement to tackle climate change.
5. The Assembly notes the IPCC’s warning that exceeding a threshold
of a global rise in temperature by 2˚C relative to the pre-industrial
level would be disastrous in social, economic and environmental
terms. It recalls that its climate action proposal “Stop the Clock
– Save our Planet” enabled substantial progress in the global negotiations
held in Durban.
6. The Assembly is convinced that the international community’s
talks must be supplemented by action at the national level. Advancing
domestic climate change legislation in key countries needs to be
a priority to help build the political conditions conducive to a
comprehensive and ambitious international agreement.
7. For over twenty years governments have tried both “top down”
and “bottom up” approaches to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
Neither approach has achieved the levels of participation or ambition necessary
to tackle climate change. What this Assembly proposes instead is
a mixed top down and bottom up approach, including – for the first
time – formal recognition of national climate change legislation
in the legally binding part of the outcome.
8. This mixed approach should apply the United Nations principle
of common but differentiated responsibilities and feature a core
agreement with a global target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
in line with the commitment already agreed by governments in the
Copenhagen Accord to keep the global average temperature rise below
2˚C compared with pre-industrial levels, delivered through national
9. Countries should be required to pass climate legislation by
2020 at the latest with clear targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
by 2030 and 2050. These national targets and legislation would be
reported to the United Nations and formally included in the legally
binding part of the outcome in a schedule or annex to the agreement.
10. An international body should be established as a part of any
climate change agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It should
be required to produce annual reports to the international authority
under the climate change agreement. It must reflect great scrutiny
and the transparency necessary for the credibility of a new climate
11. A review of national pledges should be instituted to ensure
national legislation is aligned with the global target to reduce
emissions, and that it is equitable. Countries would also be required
to report on progress each year as part of an international process
that evaluates the implementation of national legislation and the emission
reductions that result.
12. National climate change legislation is not just something
that should underpin an agreement after it has been agreed; rather
it is an enabler that creates the political space for an agreement.
The Assembly urges European governments to invest in much greater
bilateral co-operation with key countries, to involve national parliaments
and to support the international processes between now and 2015
so as to help advance national climate legislation, disseminate
best practice, build capacity amongst legislators and promote common
or complementary approaches.
13. Legislators are a central element to any successful strategy
to tackle climate change. They are responsible for developing, passing
and amending laws, and ensuring that these are implemented, as well
as approving national budgets and holding climate negotiators accountable.
It is crucial to build capacity amongst legislators in order to
maximise their potential to have a positive influence on international
14. The Assembly therefore welcomes the launch of the GLOBE Climate
Legislation Initiative and recognises the crucial role it will play
in the international negotiations by helping legislators to prepare
and implement climate change legislation between now and 2015. The
Assembly also welcomes the publication of the latest GLOBE Climate
Legislation Study, which provides an overview of current climate-related
legislation in 33 countries and helps to identify gaps, highlight
good practice and enable peer-to-peer learning. The study will be
expanded to cover 66 countries in 2014 and to 100 countries in 2015.
The Assembly calls for the adoption of the United Nations
principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and appeals
to the negotiators, in particular those from European countries,
to take into consideration the following key elements of a climate
change agreement in 2015:
target to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20%
by 2030 and by at least 50% by 2050, relative to 1990 levels;
15.2 the formal recognition of national climate change legislation
in the legally binding part of the outcome and a requirement for
countries to pass climate legislation by 2020 at the latest;
15.3 support for international processes to assist the development
of national climate legislation, to spread good practice and to
promote common methodologies;
15.4 a review of national pledges to ensure that they are aligned
with the global target and are equitable;
15.5 transparency of performance of countries against their
national targets and actions (with yearly reporting), as well as
a process to evaluate the implementation of national legislation
and the emission reductions that result;
15.6 flexibility allowing countries to improve their legislation
15.7 international rules and mechanisms for emissions trading;
15.8 a commitment to research and development, demonstration
and sharing of new technologies, and dissemination of best existing
15.9 financial and technical assistance to developing countries,
in particular the poorest ones, for climate change adaptation;
15.10 recognition of the right to equitable access to sustainable
development, of the profound impact climate change will have on
ecosystems and economies and of the importance of valuing natural
15.11 a call for international fora, notably the G8 and G20,
to press for reform to support a shift towards a low-carbon green
In this context, the Assembly reiterates its concern that
climate change will affect the enjoyment of universally recognised
fundamental rights, and therefore exhorts national parliaments of
the member States to:
relevant mechanisms for building resilience against climate change,
parallel to global governmental negotiations on the new climate
16.2 work with the governments to prepare lasting resettlement
solutions for climate refugees and displaced persons.