Transitional justice in the climate change context?

10 March 2016

Pic by MNED KAS Brussels

Pic by MNED KAS Brussels

LRI attended a workshop in Brussels co-hosted by the Multinational Development Policy Dialogue of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation and Climate Strategies on “Balancing responsibility and solidarity in international climate negotiations”.

Under the new climate agreement adopted in Paris, parties have moved away from the formal differentiation between developed and developing countries established under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. However, the historical responsibility of industrialised countries for greenhouse gas emissions remains an important issue in the negotiations. This could intensify as climate impacts become more severe, and developing countries increasingly need to take adaptation action.

The workshop was part of a project to explore how the international community may recognize historical responsibility while facilitating forward-oriented and country-driven climate action by all parties. It focused on one possible set of tools developed specifically to manage and resolve conflicts and facilitate changes to the existing regime – transitional justice processes.

Speakers presented approaches, tools and lessons learnt from transitional justice experiences in different jurisdictions (e.g. South Africa). Participants had different views on whether and to what extent these may be relevant in the climate change context. LRI director Christoph Schwarte gave a presentation on legal issues, including loss and damage. The debate will contribute to the development of politically oriented, concrete proposals for the international climate context.

LRI & Matrix event

17 February 2016

On 4 February over 60 participants reflected on some of the key take aways from Paris, including the setting of a new long term temperature goal, the pivotal role of nationally determined contributions (known as”NDCs”) and the increasing space given to non-state actors.


Discussions were led by a panel made up of Sam Bickersteth (Climate and Development Knowledge Network), James Cameron (Overseas Department Institute), Kate Cook (Matrix), Christoph Schwarte (LRI) and Philippe Sands QC (Matrix and UCL) as chair.

The audience was taken through some of the key substantive elements and features of the Agreement, such as as its focus on mitigation, inclusiveness, progressive approach, emphasis on scrutiny and accountability and how the Agreement strengthens the global response to climate change, and the key priorities for 2016: agreeing details of the new international climate architecture as well as translating NDCs into real action through implementation of national plans and policies.

The presentations generated some lively discussions on issues around enforceability, what to do about free riders and opportunities for financial markets.

Ppt slides can be accessed at LRI on PA 4 Feb

Downloads available

Lawyers at the heart of climate talks

11 December 2015


LRI lawyer Raj Bavishi (right) with clients/partners and the US Secretary of State

LRI lawyers are playing an important role as the Paris climate negotiations reach a critical point.

UK solicitor Raj Bavishi is on the Angolan delegation and represents the LDCs in a small group of legal and linguistic experts tasked by COP president Laurent Fabius with crafting and reviewing the wording of the agreement itself. The legal and linguistic group reviews draft text passed to it by the Presidency of the meeting for technical and legal conformity, but does not make any substantive changes. It also reviews translations of the text into the six official UN languages.

LRI volunteers are also working with individuals from numerous other delegations. In total LRI has so far received more than 70 legal enquiries from delegates to the talks. Some of these can be dealt with on-site, talking delegates through the issues at hand, but others need to be “farmed out” to LRI’s network of legal advisors in Europe, the US and Australia. The group is operating a “situation room” in London, staffed by lawyers who produce a daily update for clients and carry out initial research.

Some of these enquiries can be quite complicated, relating to the legal nature of loss and damage for example, while others relate to future domestic legislation that may be required to implement the Paris agreement.

Another LRI volunteer at COP21 is Caroline Dihl-Prolo, a lawyer from Brazil. Caroline studied environmental law in London and joined LRI in 2013 as an intern. She’s worked in LRI’s situation room, carrying out research and administration for the group, and has attended the last 3 COPs as a liaison officer. In Paris, Caroline is assisting Achala Abeysinghe, the legal and technical advisor to the LDC group in the talks, by attending informal meetings of nations to discuss specific issues in the text, and advising on drafting and interpretation.

“I think my advice is more useful when it comes to the very legal matters, like the preamble and how it will guide the agreement to come; entry into force, ratification, and issues related to the structure of the agreement,” Caroline says. “But of course I’m very keen on helping delegations understand what their options are in the form of the commitments and contributions under the agreement.”

Downloads available

LRI at COP 21 in Paris

29 November 2015

LDC Group Coordination meeting

LDC group coordination meeting

After a week of informal coordination and other meetings, the climate conference officially starts on Monday 30 November in Paris-le-Bourget. It is expected that at the end of the meeting, on Friday or Saturday 11/12 December, countries will adopt a new international agreement on climate.

There is a team of altogether 10 LRI lawyers in Paris. To date, they have helped the group of least developed countries (LDC) to prepare for the conference, and provided the legal training components to a workshop organised by the European capacity building initiative (ecbi) for junior delegates on Saturday.

During the next two weeks, they will be – as usual – supported by other volunteers in the London “Situation room” at Simmons & Simmons and many expert advisers from law firms, barrister chambers and universities.

Delegates should send their requests for advice and assistance to

During the conference you can also follow us on twitter at

LRI participated in pre-CCDA-V conference in Zimbabwe

28 October 2015

LRI participated in the Fifth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-V) held on 26 – 27 October in Victoria, Zimbabwe. The theme for the conference was “Shaping and implementing an ambitious, sustainable, equitable and legally binding climate agreement – the stakes for Africa?”.

Vic Falls (reduced)

In the lead up to COP 21 in Paris the workshop brought together African negotiators, parliamentarians and civil society representatives to discussed options on key issues pertaining to the 2015 agreement.

LRI was asked to present on the legal aspects of the agreement, including issues of compliance.

Many participants in the conference stressed the importance of the new agreement for Africa but also voiced concerns about its likely content and the little time remaining to finalise it.

The Chair of the Pan African Parliament’s Committee on Climate Change, Mr Awudu Cyprian Mbaya of Cameroon, underlined the need for legal expert support in developing climate legislation following COP 21 in Paris.