Compilation of International Authorities Supporting Specific Measures to Combat Climate Change Published by Columbia

by Fiona Kinniburgh, Summer Intern

Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law has prepared a Compilation of International Authorities Supporting Specific Measures to Combat Climate Change. The document has been compiled to show the authority found for various specific measures that will help combat climate change and its impacts.  The measures have been divided into the following categories:

A.  Selection, design and construction of new energy generating and consuming facilities to have least impact

B.  Phaseout of old highly polluting facilities

C.  Energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings, facilities

D.  Conversion of vehicle fleets

E.   Elimination of fossil fuel subsidies

F.   Reduction of deforestation

G.  Technology transfer to developing countries

H.  Mitigation and adaptation assistance to developing countries

I.    Acceptance of climate-displaced persons

J.    Promote Sustainable Consumption Patterns

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the agreements that stem from it (including the Kyoto Protocol) are the most authoritative existing international agreements that explicitly address climate change. However, other international conventions, declarations, agreements and charters also provide legal authority or support for some of these specific measures. Certain agreements included in this document are not directly related to climate change but contain language that supports complementary actions, such as avoiding deforestation or conserving water resources.

The weight and authority behind these measures varies depending on the sources that endorse them and whether the language used sets out a mandatory obligation or is merely aspirational.  Certain obligations have received considerably more international policy attention than others. Binding obligations to undertake some of the measures necessary to combat climate change that are included in this compilation have not yet been adopted through multilateral agreements.  They may have, however, been given some weight by their inclusion in agreements between smaller groups of countries or in “soft law” documents such as resolutions and declarations of international organizations.  In addition to legal authorities, this compilation incorporates extracts from reports issued by expert international agencies (such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations Environment Programme, the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund).  Policy recommendations from these reports have been included, as well as references to existing international or domestic programs that have been implemented that could demonstrate the acceptance and feasibility of measures to combat climate change.

This compilation was prepared by Fiona Kinniburgh under the supervision of Elizabeth Sheargold.

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