Conclusion of Bonn Climate Negotiations

19 June 2024

With over 8,000 participants, the Bonn Climate Conference, held between June 3rd and 13th, was seen as an important indicator of progress on key issues, such as finance, mitigation ambition and implementing the outcomes of the Global Stocktake (GST). However, on many of these critical issues, Parties’ views were deeply divergent, and delegates were slow to make steps towards one another, underscoring the challenges they face going into COP 29.

On the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance, which will define climate action for the coming years and is set to be decided at COP 29, Parties made little progress, and many expressed their disappointment on this. Nevertheless, there did seem to be broad agreement in the room that access to finance must be improved and that the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) be used as a basis for the transparency arrangements of the goal, although it will require updating, which could lead to disagreements.

Remarkably, discussions have still not turned to the quantum of the goal, and with only two meetings left before Parties must reach a decision on the NCQG, one can rightfully fear that progress remains too slow. The Arab Group and the African Group suggested that the goal be 1.3 trillion USD per year, but developed countries clearly indicated that they were not prepared to discuss the quantum. For developed countries, the surrounding elements must first be determined as they will inform the quantum – such as the contributor base (notably including developing but high-emitting countries, eg. China and Gulf States) and whether private finance should be included within the goal. There is also stark disagreement on whether the goal should include Loss and Damage as a sub-goal.

Parties also cannot agree to a timeframe, with many developing countries calling for a five-year goal with a review every five years aligned with NDCs’ submissions, whereas developed countries are calling for a ten-year goal.

The co-chairs will prepare a new ‘input paper’ in time for the third meeting of the ad hoc work programme on the NCQG, which, according to the Parties, should be shorter while not removing any substance and should contain a synthesis of Party proposals.

The key decision from the Dubai COP was the outcome of the Global Stocktake (GST). The negotiations in Bonn were an important opportunity to discuss the implementation of the outcomes decided in Dubai and, separately, to improve the procedural and logistical elements of the GST process based on the experiences of the first GST.

Little progress was made in the second week, since our last newsletter. As we explained, in discussions to operationalise the dialogue established as part of the GST outcomes, many developed countries and AOSIS argued that the dialogue should consider all aspects of the GST outcome, including efforts to cut emissions, whereas the African Group and LMDCs argued that it should focus solely on finance and means of implementation as these are the enablers of the transition. AILAC and LDCs proposed re-conciliating these views by ensuring that the dialogue follows up on all GST outcomes, with a specific focus on finance and means of implementation. This was included in an informal note and will be discussed in Baku in November.

On the annual GST dialogue to facilitate sharing of experiences for how the GST is informing the NDC process, Parties continued sharing their views. There seemed to be general agreement that information from the IPCC’s 7th assessment cycle should be considered and that documents submitted to inform the GST should start with a summary of key points.

Progress on operationalising the Global Goal of Adaptation (GGA) and specifically the work programme on GGA indicators was slow, but Parties eventually reached a conclusion text following negotiations running into the night on the penultimate day. The main sticking point concerned the role the Adaptation Committee (AC) was to play in ‘mapping’ the exisiting adaptation indicators for the two-year UAE-Belém work programme. Developed Parties claiming that the AC should take a lead role in this process. G77 countries, fearing a lack of transparency and loss of control over the process, wanted to form a new expert group to conduct the mapping process, with the AC supporting it. Finally, Parties compromised and agreed to a footnote in the conclusions text, leaving the different options open for future talks. Ultimately, the issue has not been resolved and will likely be the source of many discussions in Baku.

Developing countries also wanted to ensure that finance would be considered as one of the key indicators. Essentially, this did not make it into the conclusion text due to opposition by developed Parties but will likely be considered further in Baku. At least these conclusions will enable the launch of substantive work on adaptation indicators, even if these are not necessarily those some Parties would have liked to have seen included.

Following the absence of a decision on issues relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement in Dubai, Parties were due to pursue these discussions in Bonn with a view to having a fully functional art. 6 by the end of COP 29.

Progress remained slow throughout the conference on art. 6.2 and 6.4. However, there was notable advance on one sticky point that has historically slowed progression. Parties agreed that ‘emissions avoidance’ activities will not be eligible to generate credits at least until 2028, when the process will be reassessed. Parties also agreed to hold intersessional workshops to address some of the key issues remaining to be resolved, including – in relation to art.6.2 – authorisation, sequencing, addressing inconsistencies in the agreed electronic format, first transfer and registries and – in relation to art.6.4, various matters relating to authorisation and the mechanism registry.

Since COP 27, where the Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP) was established, progress has stalled on its focus. Notably, developed countries view it as focusing on employment, whereas developing countries adopt a much broader view.

In an attempt to structure discussions on the JTWP, G77+China proposed a work plan covering the period until 2026. Many developed countries firmly opposed this. Parties also continued to disagree on the interpretation of the work programme’s ‘modalities’, which must be decided to enable the programme to start working.

With the prospect of mere procedural conclusions, Parties negotiated into the early hours of the penultimate day (13th of June) and Parties agreed to draft conclusions and took note of an informal note prepared by the co-chairs. Although there is no work plan included in these conclusions, there is a placeholder in the informal note for a work plan to be potentially decided in Baku.

The most frustrated negotiators of the session were likely those working on mitigation ambition and implementation. With two years remaining for the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP), Parties were unable to reach a conclusion at this session. Ultimately, Parties disagreed on whether the outcome should reflect mere procedural elements or substantive elements.

Various groups (AOSIS, EIG, EU, AILAC, Japan) called for a decision building on the outcomes of the GST, which had called on Parties to transition away from fossil fuels ‘in this critical decade’ and encouraged them to submit NDCs (due by February 2025) with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets aligned with the 1.5 degrees goal. However, LMDCs and the Arab Group firmly opposed this, claiming that the GST should not be reflected in a decision on the MWP.

In an attempt to progress with discussions, the co-chairs produced draft conclusions and an informal note. This sparked vast criticism and was the source of many discussions throughout the final days, including during the closing plenary as the LMDCs and the Arab Group argued that they had not been mandated to produce this text and thus refused to engage with it. As such, the negotiations were blocked on this crucial stream and rule 16 of the draft rules of procedure had to be applied, placing the issue on the agenda for SB 61.

On the linkages between the Technology Mechanism and the Financial Mechanism Parties were able to forward draft conclusions that were adopted and will inform discussions in Baku. On Research and Systematic Observation, a draft conclusion was also forwarded despite it being in doubt towards the end of the session. Nevertheless, on both these themes, as on many others, many Parties were left disappointed with the outcomes of the discussions. More positive results were achieved on Agriculture with Parties agreeing to a roadmap for further work until November 2026.

ECCAS training workshop

13 May 2024

Pascale Bird and Olivia Tattarletti were recently in Kigali, Rwanda to participate in the revitalisation of the network of environmental lawyers from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Twenty attendees from the network (lawyers from public service, private practice, NGOs and academia) took part in a training workshop from 30 April to 2 May 2024, followed by the constitutive general assembly of the network on 3 May. The event was partially funded by the Climate Ambition Support Alliance’s Opportunity Fund.

LRI contributed to the training with the Regional Climate Action Transparency Hub for Central Africa (ReCATH), the African Group of Negotiators Experts Support (AGNES) and the UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Centre for West and Central Africa (RCC WAC Africa). Following introductory sessions on the three Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD and CBD), participants delved into the main substantive areas relevant to the international climate change agenda, adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage, finance, transparency, voluntary cooperation, etc.. Some sessions also focused on the domestic implementation of legal instruments to give effect to these international agreements and the regimes they create, and to drive national action. With a room full of lawyers, the sessions were inevitably followed by lively discussions, with participants sharing experience and contributing on the substance.

The network has the blessings of its “godmother”, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Rwanda, and its “godfather”, Dr. Honoré Tabuna, Commissionner, Head of the Environment, Natural Resources and Rural Development department of the ECCAS Commission. The young network has a lot of work to get on with but, as the presence and participation of its “godparents” testify, a lot of goodwill has been invested and much is hoped for its future. LRI is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such an initiative and looks forward to continuing to support the network.

Trustees wanted

22 April 2024

The impacts of climate change are becoming ever more serious, while international climate law is becoming ever more complex and demanding. Low income developing countries are disproportionately impacted, but with limited capacity to respond in comparison with those that have largely caused the problems.

We are a London based charity supporting climate vulnerable developing countries and civil society by providing high quality free legal assistance on climate related law.

Our work includes:

  • providing legal advice in connection with UN climate change negotiations,
  • organising or contributing to training and other capacity building events for a range of audiences, in both English and French,
  • supporting national level climate related law and policy making.

LRI has a team of 4 staff, coordinating a network of over 170 legal experts from law firms, universities and barristers’ chambers who provide advice and assistance on a pro bono basis. Over the last 15 years, LRI has become a highly respected source of knowledge and support for low income developing countries and other vulnerable parties in the international climate negotiations under the UNFCCC. As international rule making is now substantially complete, we are increasingly expanding our work to include capacity building and support for national level policy making and implementation.

We are seeking 2-3 new trustees, with relevant expertise, enthusiasm and time to help guide this expansion of our work. 

We welcome applications from outside the UK, particularly from climate vulnerable developing countries, but it will be useful if you are able to attend online meetings in the afternoon or evening, GMT. We are an equal opportunities organisation.

Experience in any of the following areas will be useful:

  • Understanding of climate-related law and policy making, and/or climate finance and carbon markets
  • Demonstrable understanding of the needs and priorities, and landscape of support, from beneficiary’s perspective
  • Fundraising
  • Communications and knowledge management.

Time Commitment: We hold 4-6 meetings per year, usually these are hybrid meetings in London and on Zoom. We welcome assistance as appropriate outside of these meetings.
Salary: None, but expenses available
Term of appointment: 3-4 years
How to apply and when: Please send your CV and covering letter to Jyoti Shrestha  by no later than 17 May 2024
To find out more: Please contact or the board’s co-chair Anne Miller

Failure to protect individuals from adverse effects of climate change constitutes a human rights violation

12 April 2024

On April 9, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights delivered three landmark judgements in cases relating to environmental protection and human rights.

Out of the three cases, two were determined to be inadmissible by the Grand Chamber on procedural grounds – lack of standing for the case against France,[1] and lack of extra-territorial jurisdiction and non-exhaustion of domestic remedies for the case against Portugal and 32 other States.[2] Significantly, however, the case by Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others against Switzerland was successful.

This case concerned a complaint by an association of elderly Swiss women – and four individual women – who claimed that global warming’s consequences are negatively impacting their living conditions and health, as elderly women are disproportionally affected and more vulnerable to heat and climate change. They argued that this was due to the Swiss authorities not taking sufficient action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Owing to the pressing and significant nature of the claim, it was given priority status, and the lower court of the ECtHR relinquished jurisdiction to the Grand Chamber. The applicant’s arguments relied on three main issues; the first was that the inadequacy of Switzerland’s climate policies violated the women’s right to life, as well as constituting an interference with their right to private and family life (Art. 2 and 8 ECHR). The second was that the Swiss Federal Supreme Court’s rejection of the case on arbitrary grounds violated the right to a fair trial (Art. 6 ECHR). Finally, the Swiss authorities and courts had not dealt with the content of their complaints, violating the right to an effective remedy (Art. 13 ECHR).

Despite acknowledging the damaging effects of global warming, the Swiss government argued that the claimants did not have standing due to the absence of a sufficient link between their suffering and the omissions of the state. They also argued that the association could not rely on the right to life or to respect for private and family life.[3]

The Court, in a 17-1 panel, using as a basis for its judgement the wide ratification of the 1998 Aarhus Convention on inter alia access to justice in environmental cases, determined that the applicant association had the necessary standing to bring the case against Switzerland.[4] However, the additional, individual claimants, were deemed to have insufficient standing in the case.

As regards Article 2, the Court dismissed the argument relating to a violation of the claimants’ right to life, as it found the life-threatening element was more questionable. It took the view that it was not necessary to examine it in view of its finding that Article 8 applied to the applicant association’s complaint but decided to have regard to the principles developed under Article 2 in its analysis of Article 8.[5]

The Court found that “there were some critical lacunae in the Swiss authorities’ process of putting in place the relevant domestic regulatory framework, including a failure by them to quantify, through a carbon budget or otherwise, national GHG emission limitations”, and a failure to put in place appropriate measures to achieve them; by failing to act the authorities had exceeded their margin of appreciation and thus violated Article 8 of the ECHR.[6]

Notably, the Court accepted the applicants’ argument that any discussion of Switzerland’s responsibility for the effects of climate change needs to consider not only the emissions produced in the country’s territory but also those ‘embedded’, or generated through the import of goods that account for more than half of the country emissions.[7]

The Court then outlined the necessary steps a state must take to comply with Article 8 of the ECHR. Remarkably, the Court said that States must undertake “measures for the substantial and progressive reduction” of GHG emissions with a view to reaching net neutrality in the next three decades. To avoid placing a disproportionate burden on future generations, States must take immediate action and set adequate intermediate reduction goals within a binding regulatory framework, followed by adequate implementation. The Court then went on to offer an assessment framework with a list of requirements that states must comply with to remain within their margin of appreciation and meet the net neutrality target.[8] Along with the mitigation measures, the Court emphasised the need to implement adaptation measures to alleviate the “most severe or imminent consequences of climate change.” This reflects the recognition that some consequences of climate change are inevitable, and thus, States must adapt to these to comply with Article 8 (right to private and family life).[9]

The Court also found Switzerland to have violated Article 6 of the ECHR (Right to a fair trial). The judgement indicated that the Swiss Court’s findings were “not based on sufficient examination of the scientific evidence concerning climate change”.[10] This is significant as it places an important burden on courts to ensure an effective and full examination of the – often technical – scientific evidence.

Wider significance:

This judgement has already been coined as a landmark judgement.[11] The Court has reaffirmed the wide standing afforded to environmental protection associations and shown that the rights contained in the ECHR can be used in environmental litigation. Secondly, all European Council states are now under the same obligation as Switzerland to ensure their climate policies comply with the ECHR.

This case will significantly impact states’ human rights obligations in the context of climate change worldwide. A number of cases at the ECtHR had been adjourned awaiting these judgements; given the similarities with the facts of the Swiss case, its judgement will likely be decisive. Notably the Court places the onus on all competent domestic authorities, be it legislative, executive or judiciary, to ensure respect with the relevant requirements. This is interesting as it creates an expectation that these requirements put forward in the assessment framework of national climate change policies will be used by future courts to inform their judgements. Beyond the ECtHR, national courts worldwide and other international courts (Inter-American Court of Human Rights; ICJ) are facing similar cases, placing increasing strain on existing human rights frameworks to adapt to environmental issues.  It remains to be seen how far the traditional rights frameworks can accommodate environmental concerns, and the ECtHR will likely remain at the forefront of these questions.

[1] Carême v France

[2] Duarte Agostinho and Others v Portugal and 31 Other States

[3] Paras 340-342

[4] Para 525.

[5] Para 536-537

[6] Para. 573, 574

[7] Para 279.

[8] Para.550

[9] Para.552

[10] Para 635


New Executive Director Appointment

5 February 2024

LRI trustees are pleased to announce that, following an open recruitment process, Pascale Bird was appointed as LRI’s permanent Executive Director on 1 February 2024. Pascale has over twelve years’ experience working in the climate arena: attending COPs and subsidiary meetings and delivering training sessions on the UNFCCC regime and its relevance for developing countries, both in the UK and abroad, for a wide range of audiences. Over the years she has developed an extensive network and numerous relationships with the legal community, negotiators and partner organisations, all of which will stand her in good stead as she steers the organisation through its next phase of growth and development.