European Countries Moving Forward on Climate Change Legislation

The UK Climate Change Act, introduced in 2008, is now bearing fruit and thus providing the seeds for similar legislation in over a dozen other European countries.

Friends of the Earth and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been hosting a series of seminars in European embassies lately in order to explain the benefits of the UK Climate Change Act, which includes legally binding emission targets and carbon budgets which must be continued by successive governments.

They are looking to encourage similar or better legislation in other countries and it seems that a handful of countries are interested and tilling the soil for such legislation.

Martyn Williams of Friends of the Earth was the head of the campaign that led to the UK Climate Change Act and he is now working on similar initiatives in 16 other EU countries. He is hopeful that they will be able to create more and better climate change acts throughout Europe.

“The UK had the first climate change act, but we hope it won’t be the last and that it also becomes the worst as other countries do better.”

His hopes are being matched by true efforts to create similar legislation in at least four countries so far.

“The campaign appears to have secured its first major victory after the Hungarian government last month launched a draft version of its own climate change bill, while yesterday a senior Finnish MP said the government was preparing to commission a study that would look at the feasibility of adopting similar legislation,” James Murray of Business Green reports.

Finland already went through a legal feasibility study and found “no insurmountable legal barriers” to a climate change bill. Now, it is getting ready to undertake a political study of how the legislation could work.

There are clearly some things Finland would need to work through and change if it wants to adopt a similar bill, but Oras Tynkkynen, a Green Party MP and the government’s climate policy specialist, thinks that the bill would “help bolster the business case for low carbon technologies, accelerate cuts in Finnish greenhouse gas emissions and provide businesses with greater certainty over clean tech investments.”

In addition to Hungary and Finland’s movement forward, Irish and German governments are already “undertaking detailed assessments of the viability of binding climate change acts.”

The movement in Europe looks promising and if the US Senate doesn’t get moving on strong climate and clean energy legislation itself, it looks like it might miss the first few clean energy growing seasons.


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