Emerging Economies Outpace Canada in Climate Change Legislation


By Jonny Wakefield

March 6, 2014

The world leaders in passing legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 were developing economies.  

That was one finding in a new report from Globe International, a think-tank that aims to improve climate laws around the world.  

The audit, called the Globe Climate Legislation Study, covered 66 countries accounting for more than 88 percent of world emissions. In total, countries passed nearly 500 pieces of climate change legislation last year.   

But four of those countries, including Canada, had not made any progress towards "significant" greenhouse gas reduction laws, Bloomberg Businessweek noted.

China and Mexico were among the most productive countries on climate change last year. China continued work on a "flagship" climate law, while Mexico adopted a national strategy for responding to climate change in 2013.

As those countries developed far-reaching climate laws, Canada continued to rely on the Conservatives' 2007 climate strategy, "Turning the Corner," which mandates carbon emission intensity reductions of 2 to 6 percent in different industrial sectors.  

The report noted that while Canada lacks comprehensive federal climate regulations, Quebec and British Columbia have carbon taxes, while Ontario passed legislation in 2009 "to expand renewable energy generation, encourage energy conservation and promote the creation of clean energy jobs." 

The focus on domestic policies in place of treaties is strategic, the authors said. Many countries, including Canada, have tied emissions reduction targets to those neighboring countries, in hopes of avoiding trade disadvantages.

“The climate-change negotiations have been mired down because of the difficulties of getting 194 countries to agree,” U.K. lawmaker Caroline Spelman told Bloomberg Businessweek. “You’ve got to have sufficient enough countries passing national legislation in order to get some traction.”