This page was last updated on 30 March 2022.
This page outlines the definitions, scope and principles used to collect and categorise the laws and policies contained in the Climate Change Laws of the World dataset. This dataset originates from a collaboration between the Grantham Research Institute at LSE and GLOBE International on a series of Climate Legislation Studies. The dataset is currently maintained by LSE, in partnership with Climate Policy Radar.
Classifications described below have been assigned manually. LSE, Climate Policy Radar, and our partners are currently working to develop classifications powered by AI. Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates.
This database covers all UNFCCC parties (196 countries plus the European Union), and several territories that are not in the UN or UNFCCC, such as Taiwan, Palestine and Western Sahara.
The database focuses exclusively on climate change-related laws and policies. We define climate change-related laws and policies broadly as legal documents that are directly relevant to climate change mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage or disaster risk management. Typically, to be included in the database one or more aspects of a law or policy must be demonstrably motivated by climate change concerns.
We include legal documents that: establish rules and procedures related to reducing energy demand; promote low-carbon energy supply; restrict the development of fossil fuel-based infrastructure; promote or mandate low-carbon buildings; set carbon pricing policy; lower industry emissions; tackle deforestation and promote or mandate sustainable land use; contain other mitigation efforts; cover climate-related research and development; promote or mandate low-carbon transport; enhance adaptation capabilities; or put in place natural disaster risk management. In some instances, laws addressing disaster risk management and/or energy-related matters may have been included even where no explicit mention of climate change is made, given the close connection between these areas and climate change. Laws aimed at enhancing other areas of environmental action or environmental protection are not included unless they include provisions with directly relevant impacts on climate change action, such as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, significant enhancement or protection of carbon sinks, or if they expressly contribute to climate adaptation and resilience.
The database includes legislation and policy at the national and sectoral levels only. At present, it excludes information about the policy response of sub-national governments. It also excludes international legislation, such as treaties. Documents submitted only to international organisations such as the UNFCCC are generally excluded unless they have been converted into specific legislation or formally adopted as executive policies. In most cases, this means that documents such as the Long-term Low Emissions Development Strategies and National Adaptation Plans submitted to UNFCCC registries are not included. Users are encouraged to consult the relevant UN websites where these documents may be relevant to their search. For EU member states, laws transposing EU Directives are in the process of being added to the database, along with the relevant EU law, since in many instances these may contain additional relevant provisions. Where possible these additional provisions have been noted in the description of the relevant law.
Documents included in the database must have full legal force, having passed through the legislature or through an executive decision-making body, and/or set out a current governmental policy objective or set of policy objectives. To the best of our ability, we capture major amendments to legislation and update document summaries accordingly. Where we become aware that laws are outdated, either because they have been repealed or replaced, or because they were in force for a limited time period, these documents may be removed from the database. In general, precedence is given to the document with the highest possible status dealing with a given matter. In some instances, policies or regulations aimed at giving effect to legislation or regulation of a higher order (‘parent legislation’), such as statutory instruments or other guidance adopted to provide detail on the implementation of an act of parliament, may be included in the database alongside their ‘parent legislation’ where these provide a significantly more detailed picture.
We assign a number of classifications and categories to laws and policies in the CCLW database to enhance the usability and searchability of the data. The system of classifications has evolved to remain in step with developments in climate governance, the growth of the dataset, and the needs of our user community. Codes and categories currently in use include:
Legislation and policy
We categorise documents as legislation or policy depending on if they are enacted by the legislative or executive branch of government. Where the same body holds both legislative and executive power, a determination of whether a document constitutes a law or policy is made based on our best understanding of the country’s legal system.
Document types are determined with reference to a non-exhaustive list of options and may be classified according to their legal status, i.e. as a Constitution or a Decree Law, or, in the case of policy documents, by their content, e.g. as a strategy, a roadmap or a government guidance note.
Laws and policies are categorised according to the climate policy response to which they are most relevant: mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, or disaster risk management. Where appropriate, laws may be tagged as relevant to more than one policy response.
- Mitigation: Mitigation laws and policies refer to a legislative or executive disposition focused on curbing a country’s greenhouse gases emissions in one sector or more. Measures can be directly related to emission reductions, such as establishing a national carbon budget or cap and trade system, or indirectly related, such as establishing relevant institutions or providing additional funding for research and development into low-carbon technologies. Laws and policies addressing forests and land use are included if they explicitly support climate change mitigation through activities that reduce emissions and increase carbon removals. General forest management and conservation laws are not included, even if they may have implicit consequences for climate change mitigation.
- Adaptation: Adaptation laws and policies contain explicit provisions concerning climate change adaptation, i.e. the need for changes in the management of ecological, social or economic systems in response to the actual or expected impacts of climate change. We conducted a comprehensive review of adaptation laws and policies in 2018 and have added documents since then. Note that in many cases, climate change adaptation responses may be embedded in development policies, general planning policies, risk-reduction and disaster management policies, water policies, land use and forestry policies and health policies, which can make them difficult to identify.[i]
- Disaster risk management: Laws and policies governing countries’ approaches to disaster risk management (DRM) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) were first added to the database in 2019. We have adopted a broad approach to assessing whether these documents fall within the database scope, as laws and policies often target natural and human disasters in a holistic manner, making it harder to isolate climate-related adverse events. Nonetheless, in determining whether a disaster risk management law or policy falls within scope, our researchers will usually consider whether the document relates to the types of disaster that are expected to become more frequent due to climate change, such as hurricanes, typhoons, flooding, heatwaves, droughts, forest fires and sea-level rise (this list is non-exhaustive). In some cases these laws and policies may constitute exceptions to the general rule that laws and policies must be explicitly ‘climate-motivated’ to justify their inclusion.
- Loss and damage: We define loss and damage-related laws and policies as those that explicitly reduce the risk of climate-related loss and damage by increasing resilience and those that provide compensation or other relief measures to support victims of climate-related loss and damage. The guiding definition of loss and damage includes both economic and non-economic losses that arise due to climate impacts that are made more frequent or more severe by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Policy measures may include national climate relief funds, risk transfer mechanisms, internal relocation arrangements, mainstreaming loss and damage across government departments and ministries, and social protection programmes and safety nets. Loss and damage is the most recent policy response area included in the database. Our current categorisation accounts for documents that explicitly mention the term ‘loss and damage’ and is exhaustive for laws and policies that were passed from 2015 onward. Documents addressing loss and damage with regard to specific impacts, such as biodiversity loss or drought, but which do not use an explicit loss and damage framing, do not have the loss and damage tag.
A number of laws or policies in the database are categorised as ‘framework’ documents. While there is no agreed definition of a ‘climate change framework law’, this term is applied with increasing frequency to a discrete class of laws that share some or all of the following characteristics, and we tag legislative documents within the database as ‘framework laws’ accordingly:
- Set out the strategic of travel for national climate change policy
- Are passed by the legislative branch of government
- Contain national long-term and/or medium targets and/or pathways for change
- Set out institutional arrangements for climate governance at the national level
- Are multi-sectoral in scope
- Involve mechanisms for transparency and/or accountability.[ii]
However, in the case of executive policies, we employ a broader definition than described above. Examples range from overarching multi-sectoral action plans that serve to provide a unifying basis for climate change action within a country, to documents with a narrower focus but that nonetheless establish a governance framework for a specific aspect of climate action, such as a national low-carbon energy policy. Data users interested in this sub-set of climate laws are advised to review the sub-set of laws tagged as frameworks and to use their discretion to determine which of these laws may be most relevant to their subject of inquiry.
Framework documents are tagged to indicate the policy response area(s) to which they relate, whether mitigation, adaptation or disaster risk management.
Each document is assessed to determine the most relevant sector or sectors to which it relates. The following sectors are currently considered: Agriculture, Transport, Energy, Waste, Environment, Tourism, Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), Industry, Buildings, Water, Health, Public Sector, and Other. Where a document relates to multiple sectors or appears cross-cutting in intention, we assign the labels ‘economy-wide’ or ‘cross-cutting area’. In some instances, multi-sectoral documents may also be categorised as related to Disaster Risk Management (DRM), Adaptation, or Social Development. We also consider whether laws relate primarily to urban or rural sectors of the economy and/or to coastal zones. We currently only cover waste laws that explicitly mention methane, another greenhouse gas, or if they deal with waste-to-energy schemes.
Up until January 2023, efforts were made to manually identify all targets included in laws and policies. We are currently in the process of developing an automated process to identify targets. For documents added after January 2023, we only manually identify “net zero” targets or their equivalent. See further detail in the Definitions and classifications: not currently in use section.
Discretionary keywords may be assigned to cases to enable data users to identify these more easily. We do not maintain a comprehensive list of keywords.
The Climate Change Laws of the World Database started life in 2010 as a printed publication, comprising an overview of climate change laws and policies in just 16 countries. Since then, it has expanded to include all countries in the present scope and has moved online to enable users to access relevant information when it becomes available. Updates to the data are now collected on a rolling basis from official sources such as government websites, parliamentary records and court documents. Some of our key strategies for identifying new documents include: review of documentation submitted to UNFCCC processes, such as NDCs; country-specific research (focused on the G20); thematic reviews of legislation (e.g. net zero laws); and media and social media alerts. The efforts of the CCLW team are regularly supplemented by contributions from lawyers, scholars, policymakers and other colleagues from around the world, who alert us to new data. Please use this link or email us at email@example.com if you wish to contribute.
In general, our approach has been to be inclusive and flexible with definitions, to allow for the different regulatory approaches and cultures among 200 countries, and to recognise the elusive boundaries of climate change, which spans multiple sectors and issues.
We aim for the data collected through this resource to be as comprehensive and accurate as possible. However, we do not claim to have identified every relevant law or policy in the countries covered. Language limitations, levels of media coverage, and the specific expertise of our researchers and contributors may all result in information for certain countries being more comprehensive than others. Our current data collection process prioritises the most recently passed laws and policies.
Although the Grantham Research Institute has developed rigorous internal protocols to guide the process of data collection, the categorisation of each document has been determined by individuals and has not generally been subject to checks for inter-coder reliability. The records in the database have been published in a wide variety of languages, and researchers frequently use automated translation software to understand the content of these records. The determination of whether a given law is in scope, as well as its categorisation in accordance with the definitions outlined above, may therefore be open to differing interpretations.
We acknowledge that our current focus on national level legislation may mean that the database does not capture the full detail of the climate change policy response in many countries, particularly those where a significant quantity of climate action is governed by decision-making at the sub-national level.
We invite users to exercise their judgment when using the data and any data sub-sets that serve their research and policy purposes.
This section provides details on classifications found in the full data download that are not currently in regular use, but have been previously assigned to subsets of documents in the database. We are working with our partners at Climate Policy Radar to develop new automated processes to improve our classification of documents and apply these classifications to the entire dataset.
As noted above, until January 2023 efforts were made to manually identify targets in laws and policies. Full details of the methodology for this process can be found below in Annex I.
A subset of documents have been assessed to determine the primary policy instruments or ‘tools’ on which they rely, in order to facilitate a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which governments around the world seek to influence the drivers and impacts of climate change. We categorise instruments according to an adapted version of the classic Hood and Margetts NATO typology of instruments.[iii] We assess documents to determine the most relevant area(s) of government activity and then tag them with the specific types of instrument they employ to achieve their stated aims and objectives. The vast majority of documents relate to more than one area of government activity and rely on multiple instruments. See Annex II below for the full list of instruments considered.
Natural hazards, such as floods and droughts, have been identified for a subset of documents relating to disaster risk management and adaptation.
[i] Nachmany M, Byrnes R, Surminski S (2019) National laws and policies on climate change adaptation: a global review. London: Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.[ii] See further: Nachmany M et al. (2015) The 2015 Global Climate Legislation Study: A Review of Climate Change Legislation in 99 Countries. London: Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment; Nash S, Steurer R (2019) Taking stock of Climate Change Acts in Europe: Living policy processes or symbolic gestures? Climate Policy 3:1; World Bank (2020) World Bank Reference Guide to Climate Change Framework Legislation. EFI Insight-Governance. Washington, DC: World Bank.[iii] See Hood C, Margetts H (2007) The Tools of Government in the Digital Age, London: Macmillan Education. We have loosely mapped Hood and Margetts’ four basic ‘resources’ of government – Nodality, Authority, Treasure and Organization – to areas of government activity as Capacity Building (Nodality), Regulation (Authority), Incentives and Direct Investment (Treasure), and Governance and Planning (Organization). We developed these adaptations to enhance the searchability of the database and to enable observations of particular relevance to climate change practitioners.
This Annex outlines the process used to collect and categorise the targets displayed in the Climate Change Laws of the World database. Data on targets was originally collected in 2018 following a review of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by parties to the Paris Agreement and around 1,500 climate change laws and policies then available in the CCLW database. In some instances where the text of the law was unavailable press releases or other secondary source material regarding the nature of targets set may have been consulted. Until January 2023, data was updated as new laws were added to the database but data for some countries may be incomplete. This data was reviewed extensively during the first semester of 2022.
Targets were included in the target dataset based on whether they are quantifiable. Both mitigation and adaptation targets are included. Aspirational or non-measurable targets are not generally included.
Upon addition to the database, targets are categorised by sector. Targets are defined as ‘economy-wide’ if they are communicated on a national level, without further detail on the specific sectors to which they apply.
This Annex lists the instrument types currently included in the CCLW data download.
- Standards, obligations and norms
- Disclosure obligations
- Moratoria and bans
- Zoning and spatial planning
- Tax incentives
- Carbon pricing and emissions trading
- Climate finance tools
- Provision of climate funds
- Nature based solutions and ecosystem restoration
- Provision of climate finance
- Green procurement
- Early warning systems
- Capacity building
- Institutional mandates
- Processes, plans and strategies
- Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV)
- Subnational and citizen participation
- International cooperation
- Education, training and knowledge dissemination
- Research and Development, knowledge generation