Working Papers

Features of Climate Law

Centre for Policy Research

October 20, 2021

The conversation about a climate change law in India is fast growing. Just in the past few months, a series of documents such as reports and op-eds proposing an Indian climate law, and a private member’s bill (listed for introduction to parliament) and a draft law on climate change have begun to make the rounds. This rush for a climate law has in many instances led to a direct jump to solutions and even, as mentioned above, the drafting stage of the legislative process. However, given climate change laws are novel phenomena, it is worth first examining broad conceptual questions about the approach that would work best for the Indian context and then learning from a diverse international experience before locking into solutions, models, and texts. The first essay in this series contended with the first question, namely the principles and larger objectives of a climate change law. This second essay studies the features of various climate change laws of the world to assess what structures and mechanisms should be considered best practices and might be apt for the Indian context.

The following breakdown of features is based on a comparative study of 12 climate change laws around the world, namely, those of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, and the UK. The set has been selected to be representative of developed and developing countries; mature and young legal systems; rich and poor countries; high, middle, and low per-capita income economies; and highly and moderately threatened geographical entities. These factors of course shape the eventual construct of the law and participate in no small measure in determining the distribution of climate-law features. The particular categorisation of features in this paper has been crafted as it has been for two main reasons: (a) the categories allow for the isolation of mechanisms that most significantly influence the attainment of climate goals; (b) they enable the comparison and grouping of choices based on national, political, and economic contexts.

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