What Makes Good National Climate Policy? Long, Loud, and Legal
Unsplash / Tania Malréchauffé

What Makes Good National Climate Policy? Long, Loud, and Legal

“Good climate policy” is a broad and non-specific term. What makes for “good” climate policy can be summarized as “long, loud, and legal. To hold policy-makers accountable, it’s necessary to specify what climate policies must contain, what areas they must cover, and what legal aspects they must entail. The three attributes of long, loud, and legal are all desired, as explained below.

The function of national climate policy

All policies serve a regulatory purpose and define the legal framework for private and corporate actors. For climate politics, this is especially important because short-term economic gain and long-lasting sustainable climate policy work in opposition.

Climate protection is only achievable through long-term sustainable development. So climate policy must be the starting point for the process of sustainable transformation. Climate change is a global problem, and emissions don´t stop at national borders. Yet international climate policies only state common targets and leave it up to nation-states as to how they’ll work toward these goals.

Accordingly, national climate policy has a sweeping impact on climate change.

Social and economic science studies used “long, loud, and legal” in reference to implementing and seeing the impact of climate-friendly legislation and financing (see Hawker 2007CCPI 2017Ameli et al. 2020).

  • Long policies contain aspects of sustainability, longevity, and coherence, and are implemented comprehensively across all sectors.
  • Loud climate policies are ambitious and rely on scientific evidence.
  • Legal implementation ensures that measures are binding and not easily reversible by future governments.

Few national climate policies accomplish all three of these “Ls.”

The British Climate Change Act of 2008 is an example of a good policy. It stated that, by law, the UK government must reach its net zero goal for 2050. It also implemented an independent expert group, the Climate Change Committee, to advise the national government.

The CCPI’s value for identifying good national climate policy

The CCPI also measures climate policy, including both a national and international climate policy rating. In the latest CCPI edition, Denmark was rated the best in class for both national and international climate policy.

Sadly, not one state received a very high rating in national climate policy, with Denmark being the only country to achieve a high rating. In international climate policy, only Denmark received a very high. Only Morocco, the Netherlands, and the European Union received a high rating. All other countries were rated from medium down to very low.

To see the full climate policy ranking go here and select Climate Policy – weighted 20% under Select category


David Wachenfeld

Read further CCPI blog articles:

Which European Countries are the Worst Climate Polluters, and Why?

How to Measure Countries’ Climate Performance

Jan Burck, how to increase countries’ efforts in climate protection?