National climate policy progressed in the last decade, despite stalled global negotiations

(Nanowerk News) The implementation of policy relevant to climate change, and its impact, accelerated markedly over the last decade, despite the slow pace of international climate negotiations, says Climate Policy Initiative in a new report, The Policy Climate (pdf). The study, released yesterday at an event at The Brookings Institution in Washington DC, presents three decades of evidence from five key economies – Brazil, China, India, the EU, and the U.S. — which together contain slightly more than half of the world’s population and account for nearly two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Policy Climate report
“In spite of stalemate at the global level, there have been real climate policy accomplishments at the national and subnational levels, particularly in the last decade,” said Thomas C. Heller, Executive Director of Climate Policy Initiative. “Our job now is to learn from and build on this experience.”

Policy deployed across the world at the national, provincial, and local levels provides a wealth of experience for policymakers to use to inform further programs to tackle climate change. While there is ample experience to help guide further policy development in land use, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, the report identifies a particular need for more policy that supports innovation globally.

The report offers lessons and insights from each region:

  • Brazil has seen marked success in climate-related policies and may be a good model for other emerging economies. Roughly half the slowdown in deforestation in the late-2000s was a result of deliberate government policy, while better land productivity has led to increased agricultural output.
  • China has pursued aggressive climate and energy policies with particular focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Closure of inefficient coal-fired power plants saved the equivalent of more than 100 million tonnes of coal, while renewable electricity in China grew 661% between 2000 and 2010. Still, renewable electricity sources in China only produced the equivalent of 0.68% of the electricity from conventional sources by the end of 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, China represented 68% of the increase in global energy-related CO2 emissions.
  • The European Union has been successful in reducing emissions in the last decades through a combination of the umbrella EU Emissions Trading System and targeted policies, but now faces an economic crisis that challenges its decarbonization goals.
  • India has aggressive renewable energy targets and industry energy efficiency policies, but faces significant infrastructure challenges, which may derail otherwise good policy. India is growing rapidly and represented 8% of the increase in global energy-related CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2010.
  • The United States has created a “messy but useful” combination of incentives, regulation, persuasion, and innovation at the federal and state level, which has contributed to a recent decline in emissions. Sustaining and escalating this emissions decline while creating more cost-effective policy in the face of tightened government spending is the next challenge.
  • The Policy Climate includes summaries of emissions, economic trends, and key policies in the following sectors — Buildings, Power, Industry, Transport, and Land Use.
    To download The Policy Climate and explore the interactive version of the study, visit
    Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) is a global policy effectiveness analysis and advisory organization. Its mission is to assess, diagnose, and support nations’ efforts to achieve low-carbon growth. An independent, not-for-profit organization supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations, CPI’s headquarters are in the U.S., with offices and programs in Brazil, China, Europe, India, and Indonesia.
    Source: Climate Policy Initiative
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