The principles - covering building and appliance standards, renewable energy, vehicle fuel and efficiency standards, as well as forestry - were proposed by U.S. Congressman Edward Markey and Chinese Congressman Chairman Wang Guangtao.
Wind turbines in western China's Xinjiang province (Photo by Andree Lau)
They were agreed by 100 legislators during the International's Copenhagen Legislator's Forum held by the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment, GLOBE.
The GLOBE legislators agreed to push through their own parliaments laws that bind national governments to short, medium and long-term targets for greenhouse gas emissions.
The meeting was part of intensive negotiations in advance of the United Nations climate conference December 7-18 in Copenhagen, known informally as COP 15, which stands for the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.
There, world governments are expected to finalize a legally binding treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions that will take effect when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires at the end of 2012. In most countries, a deal at Copenhagen will need the support of their legislative bodies to ratify it.
At the GLOBE meeting, legislators said the principles they agreed could achieve 70 percent of the emissions cuts needed by 2020 to limit the global average temperature rise to two degrees Celsius, the level most scientists believe will prevent the worst consequences of climate change.
GLOBE International Legislators Forum, from left: Chinese Congressman Chairman Wang Guangtao, U.S. Congressman Edward Markey, GLOBE
In his closing remarks at the legislators' session this weekend, Congressman Markey said, "I have listened to all the commitments for action and it helps to know that we have this consensus. This helps each one of us back home - this is a crucial part of what is happening in the next 45 days. This document will help a lot to securing the conclusion of a successful COP 15 treaty, the most important treaty ever negotiated in the history of the planet."
"These principles we have agreed today on energy efficiency, building standards, science standards and renewable energy all have to be part of the debate in every legislature in the world. I know this document will be helpful to be me in the United States," said Markey, who co-sponsored the Waxman-Markey Bill that was approved in June by the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Because of GLOBE and people all around the world, we have won the debate on climate change," he said.
In his closing remarks, Congressman Wang, who chairs the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the National People's Congress, called the discussions "successful and important."
"These principles will play a great role in implementing post Copenhagen measures so that legislators can take real action," said Wang. "We must ensure parliaments have an important role legislating and monitoring governments. These legislative principles are aimed at encouraging governments to implement the UNFCCC Bali and Kyoto Protocol."
Wang, Markey and Lord Michael Jay of the UK Parliament are coordinating the adoption of these principles through the legislatures of the world's major economies.
Lord Michael, former head of the UK Diplomatic Service and vice-chair of GLOBE, called the legislators' agreement "a wake up call to governments in the last days running up to Copenhagen that legislators from the major economies are willing to drive the move to a global low carbon economy."
"Though it is governments that will sign on the dotted line at the COP 15 at Copenhagen in December, it is legislators that must pass laws in their domestic parliaments to ensure that the promises of governments are translated into reality."
The GLOBE legislators agreed also to promote 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 regular reviews to ensure that the policies of their governments are consistent with the latest science.
Danish Prime Minster Lars Lokke Rasmussen (Photo courtesy GLOBE)
Danish Prime Minster Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who will host COP 15 at Copenhagen, said, "The GLOBE Copenhagen Legislators Forum is a critical staging point ahead of the formal UNFCCC negotiations and presents a very real opportunity to outline to national leaders where the political boundaries could be for an ambitious agreement at the formal negotiations. This will be a powerful and new intervention contributing to the international response to climate change."
Senator Serys Slhessarenko, vice president of the Brazilian Senate, said, "In fact we are the ones legitimizing governments' possibilities of negotiating a fair and equitable deal. Therefore, it is key to agree on key legislative principles and put forward legislation in the major economies."
GLOBE India's President Raju Parmar, a former member of the Indian Lok Satha and a member of the Congress Party, said, "As a politician and representative of the people we must take these principles seriously and take it to the parliament for early implementation. We must discuss the real challenge of climate change and global warming in the interest of mankind and future generations."
The GLOBE Legislators Forum also was addressed by Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, and by the Speaker of the South African National Assembly, Max Sisulu; and, by video, by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
In addition to the legislative principles, the legislators also agreed on a joint high-level statement for the COP 15 that calls for governments negotiating in Copenhagen to agree on emissions targets for developed countries for 2030 and 2040 in addition to 2020 and 2050.
"This will ensure that successive governments remain focused on delivering an interim emissions reduction target; and second, it dilutes the current focus on only 2020 targets that ignores the political realities in some developed countries," the legislators state.
Legislators applaud the remarks of U.S. Congressman Edward Markey (Photo courtesy GLOBE)
"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," the legislators emphasize in their high-level statement.
"A long-term stabilization fund should be introduced in the medium-term as high deforesting countries reduce their deforestation rates to create long-term incentives for nations to reach a stable or increasing level of forest by paying these countries for the ongoing ecosystem services provided by forests," the high-level statement declares.
A strengthened emissions monitoring and verification system that applies to all countries should be introduced, the legislators state.
"Current UNFCC emissions figures are based on economic data rather than actual measurements. It is thought that these estimates for carbon dioxide are within 10 percent accuracy for developed countries and less so for developing countries," the legislators said. "With the need for treaty verification, and the growth of emissions trading, there is a need for much more accurate information that uses surface and aircraft-based measurement systems."
The legislators state that they support a "protect and share" framework for Intellectual Property Rights. Under this system, 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.
And finally, the legislators declare that at least $100 billion per year in financial assistance will be needed from public and private sources, including developed countries, to meet the cost of adaptation to a changed climate in developing countries.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.