The effects of climate change are already palpable and society will be coping with its consequences for centuries to come. A commensurate response to climate change requires urgent action at the local, national, and international levels.
In October 2016, fifty-five percent of the world’s countries, and countries responsible for 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, ratified the Paris agreement. This significant development underscores the need for an even greater focus on the governance dimensions of climate change with laws at the national level that institutionalize country commitments. ELI has developed a straight-forward model framework for a national-level, climate change law that countries can use. The model law has been translated into the six UN languages (plus Portuguese) to facilitate its use around the world.
The variability and uncertainty inherent in the predictions about the specific effects of climate change make it difficult to plan. New legal, policy, and institutional approaches are necessary for adaptive responses to the uncertainties associated with climate change, variability, and extreme weather events. In particular, these approaches must include more appropriate land use and zoning, regulation of resources, and protection of ecosystems. To be effective, the laws and approaches will need to provide opportunities for active engagement of affected people and businesses.
ELI is working with partners around the world to develop legal, institutional, and practical approaches for adaptively managing natural resources. ELI is working with countries to strengthen their laws governing biodiversity to adapt to climate change by identifying key weaknesses in current frameworks and developing tools to improve them. Ongoing ELI research on invasive species examines how prevention, control, and eradication techniques may be adapted in light of climate change. ELI’s International Water Program is considering how climate change could affect the management of water resources in light of climate change and how governance systems can respond to these effects.
ELI’s Land and Biodiversity Program is working with The University of North Carolina’s Institute for the Environment to examine the impacts on priority habitats that may result from predicted sea level rise and increased flooding due to climate change and to propose changes to national and state policies that govern floodplain and coastal management to address the impacts of climate change and promote wildlife conservation. ELI is working with the Mid-Atlantic States to identify priority-setting systems for wetlands conservation and restoration that can promote climate risk reduction and resilience.