Helping parliamentarians drive national climate change policy

2016 - 2017

Members of parliament can help break the international stalemate on climate change action by ‘domesticating’ global decisions, using national legislation. But to do that they often need long-term capacity-building programmes to catalyse the process: programmes that have support within the government and across parliaments.

This diagram illustrates how ambition for the Paris Agreement must be racheted up (Image: Clare Shakya/IIED)

This diagram illustrates how ambition for the Paris Agreement must be racheted up (Photo: Clare Shakya/IIED)

Linking global to local has become a crucial approach to tackling climate change. The international process to agree on the “rulebook” for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is complex. A major challenge for the next decades is to ratchet up ambition on all aspects of the climate change response. 

Many people believe that action and pledges to date on climate change have been inadequate compared to the enormity of the challenge. This belief has led some countries, such as the UK, Scotland, Mexico, South Korea, Ghana and China, to enact their own climate change legislation, in effect ‘domesticating’ global decisions.

Parliamentarians are uniquely placed to ensure the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and ratcheting global ambition by influencing their own national climate change agenda.

They can shape national climate policy and fill the important gaps between the global, national and local levels. Such legislation, though not supplanting the UNFCCC process, lets countries forge ahead with distinctive national actions that run alongside international collective action.

What did IIED do?

Building on our previous work with parliaments across the Southern African Customs Union region, IIED aimed to:

  • Support national legislative responses to climate change, including the Paris Agreement ratification process
  • Help improve transparency and accountability of national actions in line with Paris Agreement commitments and,
  • Strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians around climate change challenges in order to improve their legislative oversight. 


How parliamentarians can help ensure the success of the Paris Agreement, Sharaban Tahura Zaman, Subhi Barakat, Achala Abeysinghe, Janna Tenzing (2016), IIED Briefing | en français

Additional resources

Developing Myanmar’s National Climate Change Policy, Achala Abeysinghe, Subhi Barakat, Janna Tenzing (2017), IIED Reflect and Act

Glossary of climate change for parliamentarians: a comprehensive glossary of terms used within climate change negotiations and discussions, Achala Abeysinghe (2011), IIED

Preparing parliament for the climate challenge in Ghana, Corinne Schoch, Barry Smith (2012), IIED Briefing

Climate change: an issue for parliamentarians in Southern Africa, Achala Abeysinghe, Simon Anderson, Corinne Schoch, Barry Smith (2011), IIED Briefing


Department for International Development (DFID) (2016)


Inter-Parliamentary Union

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