Opinion: On the road to Paris – spotlight on the legal issues

Climate negotiations resume on 1st June in Bonn, Germany. Ahead of this meeting, Illari Aragon, LRI Programme and Outreach officer, writes about the state of play in the negotiations and puts outstanding legal questions under the spotlight.

At the June meeting, Parties are expected to commence a lengthy and granular process of narrowing down the 90-page official negotiating text, negotiating line-by-line and trying to find common ground. As COP 21 in Paris moves closer, attention to the legal form of the new agreement needs to progress in earnest. This is an aspect barely addressed by the Parties so far. Apart from setting out that the new agreement could be ‘a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force’ (Durban mandate) no further specification as to what is intended or covered by each of these options has been agreed… the Durban mandate is also silent on the structure of the new agreement; specifically, whether the Paris outcome should comprise only one instrument or consist of multiple instruments… The Geneva negotiating text keeps the show on the road towards a new climate deal by 2015. However, countries need to make the most of the negotiating time available in June, which, in the face of the challenge, is short.

Read full articles – “Opinion: On the road to Paris – spotlight on the legal issues” cdkn.org

“Will Paris be another ‘Hopenhagen’? Time is running out for climate negotiators”  The Ecologist

As usual, a team of LRI lawyers will be attending the June session to take legal queries and assist negotiators on the ground.

Follow us on twitter@legalresponse to get negotiation updates, and for inquiries about our legal support, contact us on: enquiries@legalresponseinitiative.org

Mainstreaming human rights in the new climate deal

The adverse effects of climate change threaten the enjoyment of a range of human rights, such as the right to life, adequate food, adequate housing, and to safe drinking water and sanitation. As such, integrating human rights considerations in the new climate change agreement is an importance issue for some countries and observer organisations involved in the ongoing talks.

This LRI briefing paper offers examples to illustrate approaches and techniques available for including human rights considerations in the 2015 climate change agreement.

Drawing upon existing proposals in the current Geneva negotiating text, the paper sets out the legal implications of the inclusion of reference to human rights in different parts of the agreement; namely, its preamble and operative provisions. Other integrating options are also analysed.

Written by LRI expert advisers, Dr. Annalisa Savaresi, from Edinburgh Law School, and Dr Jacques Hartmann, from Dundee Law School, the briefing also outlines criteria to address the issue of ‘climate refugees’ and the possibility to use the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to specifically highlight human rights concerns associated with climate change.

  Click to access the briefing  

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Negotiating a new climate treaty? LRI panel discussion at Matrix Chambers

Christoph Schwarte, LRI Executive Director, Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Ben Lyon, from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and head of the UK delegation to the UNFCCC, participated in a lunchtime panel discussion on perspectives about the new climate change agreement. The event took place on 22 April and was hosted by Matrix Chambers.

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At the event, Christoph Schwarte provided a timely update on the state of play in the lead up to Paris 2015 and what to expect in June, when the negotiation sessions are scheduled to resume. He further explained some of the formal outcome options that the new climate agreement might cover and what the legal implications may be in each case.

Ben Lyon, on behalf of the UK delegation to the UNFCCC, provided viewpoints about what the priorities and expectations are for the UK and the European Union as a whole. He set out the political context in which the negotiations are taking place and laid out some of the key focus areas on the road to Paris.

Chief Executive of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), Sam Bickersteth, spoke about the significance of the current talks and offered perspectives about the policy work that countries are undergoing domestically as part of the international UNFCCC process. He mentioned, for example, the support that CDKN is providing to Peru for the preparation of their INDCs.