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Climate Councils – Chairs’ Summary

On the 18th and 19th May, representatives from 22 Climate Councils from countries around the world came together virtually to share experiences, discuss common challenges and explore how to support one another in their work. Climate Councils are bodies tasked with providing formal, independently-reached, expert and evidence-led advice and assessments on climate mitigation and/or adaptation policies to their Governments.

The opening of the meeting featured an address from the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, President Designate of COP26, who welcomed the meeting and set out his key objectives for the conference in Glasgow. He highlighted how Climate Councils can support these objectives by providing independent, evidence-based advice and scrutiny, and emphasised that Councils can help to make the economic case for ambitious climate action to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

Dr Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II, gave a keynote address on the role of Climate Councils in bridging science and policy. Her address emphasised the important role of Councils in guiding the translation of international climate science into advice on appropriate and effective national and local responses for both climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) presented research showcasing examples of Climate Councils’ role in supporting robust and impactful climate policy measures in a range of countries. They highlighted the value of Councils having a clear and independent mandate with a strong statutory basis, sufficient resourcing to enable in-house technical expertise, applying robust and transparent analytical methods, and an open and inclusive approach to stakeholder engagement.

Building on these perspectives, Chairs and senior representatives from Councils shared approaches to informing, recommending and evaluating policy in their different stages of development and their different national circumstances. Recognising the crucial role Councils’ will play in delivery of national targets and supporting the 2020s as the decade of turning climate ambition into action, discussions focussed on the following themes:

  • Effectively operating climate councils: Councils cover a wide spread of formal roles within their respective national frameworks, and are at different stages of development, ranging from some Councils being newly formed to others with over a decade in operation. Participants reflected on the value of multidisciplinary expertise represented in Councils, with core expertise in climate science being complemented by input from specialists (for example in economics and behavioural science). Echoing the findings of the WRI, a clear mandate and appropriate resourcing were identified as key to Councils being able to operate effectively.
  • Enabling and overseeing climate action in mitigation and adaptation: Discussions reflected upon the importance of a robust science basis and the independence of their findings for Councils to provide objective and effective policy advice and evaluation. It was felt that Councils can provide a valuable role in convening stakeholders and guiding debate in challenging areas of climate policy to help develop consensus and promote appropriate policy actions. This includes setting out the structural changes needed across the economy – for example, renewable electricity ambition and climate resilience measures – and working these through with business and industry. Participants acknowledged the need to better integrate advice and assessment approaches on mitigation and adaptation and explored how this might be achieved.
  • Supporting a socially just low-carbon transition: Participants shared ideas and approaches regarding how Councils, in their different settings, can inform and support climate policies that ensure the costs and benefits of transition are fairly distributed.   This was underpinned by a common recognition of the importance of climate action being undertaken in a socially and economically fair manner, with respect for marginalised and vulnerable people, across both mitigation and adaptation.

Across the meeting, our collective experience demonstrated the substantial value of climate governance that includes mechanisms for dedicated Climate Councils to provide impartial evidence-led input to setting targets and the design and delivery of effective policies in both mitigation and adaptation. We reflected how both newer and existing Councils have much to learn from each other, agreed to continue to collaborate through regular forums, and plan to include and support new Climate Councils around the world into this network.

Coordinating Chairs:
  • Prof. Maisa Rojas (Chile Scientific Committee on Climate Change)
  • Prof. Johan Kuylenstierna (Sweden Climate Policy Council)
  • Lord Deben (United Kingdom Climate Change Committee)
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Climate Councils:
  • Climate Change Authority (Australia)
  • Canadian Institute for Climate Choices & Net-Zero Advisory Body (Canada)
  • Comité Científico de Cambio Climático  [Scientific Committee on Climate Change] (Chile)
  • 中国国家气候变化专家委员会 [National Expert Panel on Climate Change] (China)
  • Consejo Científico de Cambio Climático (4C) [Scientific Council on Climate Change Panel] (Costa Rica)
  • Klimarådet [Council on Climate Change] (Denmark)
  • Suomen Ilmastopaneeli [Climate Change Panel] (Finland)
  • Haut conseil pour le climat [High council on climate] (France)
  • Expertenrat für Klimafragen [Council of Experts on Climate Change] (Germany)
  • Scientific Committee on Climate Change (Greece)
  • Consejo Nacional de Cambio Climático  [National Council on Climate Change] (Guatemala)
  • Loftslagsráð [Climate Council] (Iceland)
  • An Chomhairle Chomhairleach um Athrú Aeráide [Climate Change Advisory Council] (Ireland)
  • Consejo de Cambio Climático  [Council on Climate Change] (Mexico)
  • Climate Change Commission (New Zealand)
  • National Panel of Technical Experts Climate Change Commission (Philippines)
  • Presidential Climate Commission (South Africa)
  • Klimatpolitiska Rådet [Climate Policy Council] & Nationella Expertrådet för Klimatanpassning [National Expert Council for Climate Adaptation] (Sweden)
  • Organe consultatif sur les changements climatiques [Advisory Body on Climate Change] (Switzerland)
  • Climate Change Committee (United Kingdom)

The meeting of Climate Councils was coordinated by the Chile Scientific Committee on Climate Change, Sweden Climate Policy Council and United Kingdom Climate Change Committee, and supported by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and Sweden Climate Policy Council.