Unlocking Willpower and Ambition

Unlocking Willpower and Ambition

Today the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) released a law and policy review comment by CCS authors Tom Peterson, Steve Chester, and Bob McKinstry in its December issue of the Environmental Law Reporter (ELR) entitled “Unlocking Willpower and Ambition to Meet Goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (Part One): Shifting Needs of Law, Policy, and Economics”. This is the first of a two-part series and identifies a major gap in climate law and policy – the need to formally build willpower as well as ambition – and a five-part response based on high-level experience with law and policy at the national and sub national levels.

Since 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) used the term ambition formally in agreements to implement activities and address the need for expanded environmental goals and aspirations. This can be likened to "talking the talk” in terms of climate change action. On the other hand, the parallel concept of willpower, or “walking the walk” by making difficult decisions to implement activities required to achieve these goals, has not been given similar treatment. This is an impediment to future progress. While law and policy makers have often blended some degree of flexibility and support with formulation of climate change goals, a more systematic and strategic approach is needed to build willpower.

CCS authors identified five key conditions needed by authorities to build the necessary willpower for implementation of new climate change goals such as those contemplated by the Paris Agreement and future negotiations of the COP. These include: 1) clearly aligning climate change actions with existing national goals and priorities; 2) assuring new policy and program capacity in the form of manpower and money; 3) improving public support and active involvement in policy decisions; 4) enabling freedom of choice within countries for home grown policy solutions; and 5) providing effective and accessible tools for ongoing policy development and transition.   

The ELR article can be found at ELI's website (subscription needed) and CCS library (free pdf copy).


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 To build national willpower, agencies and stakeholders need to craft legal and policy solutions that meet a series of critical needs (photo from Ukraine Low Emissions Development Strategies process).