World Parliament on Climate Change proposed

17. July 2010

Paper presented at conference in Canberra, Australia

At a conference in Canberra organized by the Australian National University, experts suggested the establishment of a world parliament on global climate policy. The new body, initially composed of around 550 delegates from national parliaments, could be set up as a consultative body to the Conference of State Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.

“Climate change is one of the most important issues of this century and an effective global response is urgent. We are convinced that a global parliamentary assembly could help to reinvigorate the negotiation process,” said Duncan Kerr, Australian Member of Parliament and one of the proposal’s three co-authors.

Duncan Kerr MP presents the paper in Canberra
Image: KDUN

The paper presented in Canberra argues that a parliamentary assembly could help improve the “significantly flawed” decision-making process of the UNFCCC. According to Duncan Kerr and his co-authors, the Argentinian Member of Parliament Fernando Iglesias and Andreas Bummel, chairman of the Committee for a Democratic U.N. in Germany, an agreement approved by a global parliamentary assembly “would have unprecedented legitimacy.” They state that “this legitimacy would exert moral pressure to join any post-Kyoto protocol and to secure compliance.”

Mr. Kerr explained in Canberra that one of the parliament’s purposes would be to act as a formal platform to facilitate and organize public deliberation and to gather input from experts, civil society and from the grass-roots level. “By contrast to top diplomats who represent governments and report back to them, delegates of a parliamentary assembly would be ultimately accountable to their constituents. Their task would be to establish links to relevant groups and civil-society organizations on the spot and to interact with them,” said Mr. Kerr.

The chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Jo Leinen from Germany, welcomed the proposal. “A global parliamentary assembly would represent the common interest of humanity in finding an effective response to climate change. This perspective is urgently necessary to counterweight the bargaining of national governments,” said Mr. Leinen. “Just as the European Parliament originally started off as a consultative assembly of the European Community on Coal and Steel in the 1950ies, a world parliament may start as an advisory body on climate policy,“ Mr. Leinen added.

The director of the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development in the United Kingdom, Halina Ward, commented that “the proposal for a World Parliament on Climate Change tackles important issues about how to improve representation of the world's people in global climate governance. This is a carefully crafted proposal that deserves serious consideration.”

The conference on “Democratizing Climate Governance” in Canberra was held on 15-16 July.

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Top image: Lake Hume, Australia, by Tim Keegan, Creative Commons (Flickr)

Tags: Australia