Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

France and Russia also propose new climate change legislation

Adelina Marini, July 27, 2009

Less than 6 months before the big UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen where it is expected an entirely new agreement for decrease of greenhouse gas emissions to be concluded, several big states started introducing radically new national legislation, directed toward support of greenhouse gas emission trade, stimulating renewable energy sources and the creation of eco-effective economy. After the US and the UK, now the National Assembly of France also approved a legislation overhauling environmental standards and setting tough emissions targets, sending a signal to other major polluting nations ahead of global climate talks in Copenhagen.

Both houses of the Assembly approved the legislation with majority. Only the Green Party and the Communists voted against, saying it doesn't go far enough. The bill says France should reduce its carbon emissions fourfold by 2050 and increase renewable energy sources to 23 per cent of total energy production, about double current levels.

Another big surprise in the global warming negotiations is Russia about which no one actually knew what it had in mind about global warming. As being one of the biggest exporters of fossil fuels - natural gas, oil and coal, Russia has always been among the biggest polluters in the world. And until recently there was no official position about Russia's intentions to get involved in slowing down climate change.

In a speech in the far North city of Arkhangelsk in beginning of the month, the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said that it would be very difficult for Russia to escape its obligations to get involved in global efforts for decrease of greenhouse gas emissions. "We need to promote these alternative sources of energy, because sooner or later, they will replace today’s traditional hydrocarbons, as sad as that may sound to us". According to experts, quoted by New York Times Russia might create a serious problem if it starts consuming more energy from renewable sources because, thus, it will start exporting more fossil fuels so as to support its economic growth, based almost entirely on energy trade.

But even bigger surprise is the fact that Russian parliament voted on first reading the first ever energy efficiency legislation which is definitely a success. The problem is that fighting climate change needs much more than this but there is still time until the Copenhagen conference and although we cannot anticipate any miracles, still many things can be done if other countries follow the example of the US, UK, France and Russia.