What are National ‘Climate Change Acts’?

Thomas Muinzer* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates national ‘climate change acts’. Climate change acts are a newly emerging, innovative form of legislation designed to drive down economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions. They impact the energy sector most particularly, as the most abundant source of global greenhouse gas emissions. The analysis highlights various conceptual, definitional and linguistic problems that arise where one seeks to apply the term ‘climate change act’ meaningfully in the context of climate and energy law and policy discourse. It is demonstrated that such difficulties exert a latent undermining influence on technical and analytical coherence in the field. Means of reducing or avoiding these sorts of problems going forward are outlined and discussed. As part of this process, a working definition of this emerging form of legislation is set out in careful exacting terms. Here, its meaning is equated with the technical descriptor ‘national framework climate legislation’. Consideration is also accorded to the future of climate change acts in this analytical setting, and extant commentary engaging the notion of second-generation climate policy is drawn upon in order to construct a working definition of second-generation climate change acts that can usefully inform aspects of analysis in going forward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-438
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Energy and Natural Resources Law
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note


The author thanks the Editor and reviewers at the Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law and Professor Liz Fisher (University of Oxford) for comments on this paper in draft form, which helped to improve it.


  • climate and energy legislation
  • climate and energy policy frameworks
  • climate change acts


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