Module 4

Area of Expertise

In theory, oversight on climate change is not all that different from oversight on any other issue. In practice however, the demands and complexities of oversight and budgeting on climate change come with some noteworthy challenges. They also take on increased importance in the face of the urgent need for bigger budgets and improved implementation capacities.

This module reviews some of the key mechanisms and strategies that can help strengthen a parliament’s oversight capacities on climate change and energy. For more information on parliamentary oversight, please click here.

The first step towards effective oversight on climate change is the development of clear guidelines, targets and indicators by which to evaluate the implementation of laws and regulations.  These should be set out during the legislative drafting process, and should be designed with a view to preparing clear, accessible reports and assessments.  In this regard, the benefits of developing flagship legislation for oversight purposes are clear.  An overarching, national ‘climate law’ identifies the main targets or objectives to be reached and serves as a legal climate umbrella, giving government departments, parliamentarians, and local actors a good sense of how progress will eventually be measured.  Setting national targets for renewable energy development or carbon emissions, for example, allows parliamentarians to see quite quickly whether implementation is on the right track; from there, they can dig a little deeper and see whether further amendments, more funding or improved implementation is required.

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Discussion Questions

- How do your participants typically carry out their oversight functions?  Do they work primarily in committee, ask parliamentary questions, take part in hearings, …?

- How do government departments and agencies report to parliament?  What kind of information is made available to MPs, and how useful is this?  What steps could be taken to improve reporting standards and transparency?

- How are existing climate change and energy laws being implemented?  How involved have your participants been in monitoring the implementation?  What resources and staff support are available to assist them in this? 

- How do your participants view the work of the Auditor General? Is this office actively used by the parliament? Could more be done to draw on its expertise and resources?


Parliamentary Action Points
  • Ask parliamentary questions
  • Getting the facts: reporting & monitoring
  • Engage the Auditor-General
  • Parliamentary committee hearings
  • Call on your government
  • Organise a field visit

Further Resources

Making Adaptation Count: Concepts and Options for Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Change Adaptation

Aimed at development practitioners and decision makers, this publication offers a roadmap for designing M&E systems for climate change adaptation that help fulfill core principles of aid effectiveness. 

Charles Chauvel (UNDP): Staying three steps ahead of government: the oversight role of parliamentarians

This is a presentation by Charles Chauvel, Parliamentary Development Advisor at UNDP, on MPs’ pivotal role in overseeing the executive branch on government, reallocating state budgets and advocating for more rapid policy change.