National Climate Change Strategies Should Target the Roots of the Problem


By: CEEweb for Biodiversity, a network of 64 non-governmental organizations in the Central and Eastern European region. Our mission is the conservation of biodiversity through the promotion of sustainable development

This is the last part of the 6 article series on policy recommendations for climate change. If you haven’t already, read the previous articles:

  1. The necessity of ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change at national level
  2. The ecosystem based approach in agriculture
  3. Ecosystem based approach for water
  4. The ecosystem based approach in forestry
  5. The ecosystem based approach and nature conservation

Recommendations to national decision makers in Central and Eastern Europe

It is impossible to mitigate climate change or to effectively adapt to it at any level solely by separate climate policies. Climate change is, just as a range of other environmental and social crises, symptom of a systemic problem, which calls for systemic solutions. Our current socio-economic structure – building upon the growth paradigm – has lead to ecological overshoot, natural resources and areas with natural vegetation being utilized far above their renewable capacities. The real challenge of climate change policy is whether it will be able to preclude making a new separate sector with no more than end-of-pipe solutions.

It is crucial to harmonize climate policy with key national policies – such as sustainable development, energy, transport, agriculture and rural development, forestry, biodiversity, water and spatial planning – and so creating a strong, coherent and holistic environmental policy framework, which is able to identify and effectively tackle the drivers behind systemic problems. In order to really target the drivers, an economic paradigm shift is needed, resulting in new socio-economic macro-structure with lower demand for natural resources and space. This cannot be achieved solely by regulating the environmental pressures (i.e. the outputs of the system) separately, as it is done today. As long as the system is in overshoot, the burden will always be shifted in another element of the environment, causing crises elsewhere. Thus it is essential to regulate the inputs too, namely, to limit and gradually decrease our use of natural resources and natural space. Such regulation can automatically result in less environmental pressure while accelerating sustainable solutions, especially if coupled with incentives for investments in energy efficiency and sustainable land use.

Example: the Hungarian Climate Bill proposal

There is already an officially adopted National Climate Strategy in Hungary. As an addition to that, by January 2010 the Hungarian National Council for Sustainable Development prepared a proposal for a more holistic framework law called the Hungarian Climate Bill, which was submitted to the Hungarian Parliament. The proposal received an exceptionally wide support, including more than 500 green and social NGOs, all parties of the Parliament and the former Ministry of Environment and Water. Scheduled for the very last parliamentary session day before the parliamentary election, the voting was eventually called off due to a submitted amendment. Now the whole procedure has started again, and the Bill will likely to be on the agenda again in autumn 2011.

One of the leading principles behind the Climate Bill is sustainable development. In line with this, it aims to find the system-level solution for the challenge of climate change. It calls for a broad set of measures, which is able to treat not only the symptoms of climate change, but also its ecological, social and environmental root causes at the same time. Besides controlling emissions, it emphasizes the need for input-side regulation. Regulation of resource inputs means the gradual decrease of Hungary’s fossil fuel use, and, on the long term, even more: less use of further natural resources, and less use of land surface. To achieve this, production and consumption patterns must be basically changed. The law aims to achieve this change primarily by economic incentives. It aims to establish the National Revolving Fund, a 100% repayable, interest-free loan for investments on energy-saving and renewable energy.

The proposal insists to pay much higher attention to adaptation measures. It aims to protect the vegetation cover of Hungary from further decreasing, and provisions a national restoration plan for rehabilitating degraded habitats. It also ring-fences a substantial part of the national research and innovation budget for climate protection (adaptation and mitigation) targets.
Friends of the Earth Hungary has been campaigning for the Climate Bill for almost 3 years now



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