Politics, law, economy: an essential combination for a liveable Planet
One of the main challenges of the 24th UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) is the implementation of the rules established in the Paris Agreement.
Because of the policies currently pursued by individual states, the limits set by the Agreement are far from being respected. Therefore, the use of legal and economic tools to encourage state’s administrations to adopt climatic laws that are more in line with international environmental objectives, becomes crucial. Two international institutes, the Center for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) and the Green Economics Institute (GEI), were invited to COP24 to present their studies on the tools to be used to modify the current – and excessive – liabilities of the states in environmental matters.
The intervention of the CISDL, based on the juridical aspects, has highlighted the importance of flexibility on climatic laws. This is because over time, laws need to remain relevant and consistent with the progress on scientific research. Secondly, it emerged the importance of creating a control mechanism that is closely linked to the legislative process.In addition to the form of the laws, a top-down approach is also necessary: the policy-makers are in fact called to adopt carbon taxes and to promote subsidies for investments in the renewable energy sector. However, climate laws often pose problems because the population does not feel represented by the decisions made by their governments. For example, France is now facing a difficult moment following the introduction of the carbon tax, which took place without a consultation to the citizens. In this regard, many procedures do not always provide room for the active participation of citizens in the creation of laws. This is not an ideal procedure, but a pragmatic one.
Furthermore, the introduction of the carbon tax does not allow to bringing it back only to some branches of law. In fact, it is not only one institution that deals with administrative law or tax / public law, but also commercial law and labour law. For example, it is necessary to take into account all the implications that could have impacts on workers in the carbon sector, thus a fair transition can take place.
The intervention of the GEI was more focused on economic aspects. The studies conducted by the institute showed that is possible to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement through changes in one’s daily habits; more precisely, with the reduction of CO2 emissions to 2 tons per person on an annual basis by 2022. In order for people to be able to contribute, however, two types of costs must be taken into account: the costs of information, necessary for the awareness of citizens; and, costs for incentives, which are fundamental to the investment process.
At this time, the problem lies in the fact that carbon is relatively cheap compared to the price of renewable energy, which leads to a lower attraction for investments in the green economy sector. The current situation is in the hands of governments that should intervene in terms of coal taxation and subsidies for renewable energy. In conclusion, the path towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement sees as fundamental actors, also, the scholars of law and economics. These are in fact called to develop new tools and to improve those already existing, so that they are readily available to policy makers. This form of multi-level collaboration will be decisive for a fair and effective transition.