Bonn and 10 more days

16 June 2015

Audience @ Uni Bonn

Audience @ Uni Bonn

LRI @ Institute for public international law

LRI @ Institute for public international law

The Bonn Climate Change Conference concluded on Thursday, 11 June, at 5 pm. Parties did not go into extra time to negotiate a new agreement on climate. The outputs of their negotiations are reflected in two non-papers, the “Working document” (68 A4 pages) and the Streamlined and consolidated negotiation text (85 A4 pages), both dated 11 June and available online at

8 LRI lawyers attended the Bonn meeting and dealt with over 30 requests for legal advice from poor and particularly climate vulnerable developing countries. A new paper on how human rights could be integrated into the 2015 agreement was well received and two events at the university of Bonn on international law and the climate negotiations attended by many students, academics and lawyers.

Volunteers in the 'Situation Room'

Volunteers in the ‘Situation Room’

As an outcome of the Bonn conference, Parties have requested the two co-chairs of the ADP to issue an “additional tool” which should include a fully streamlined, consolidated, clear and concise version of the Geneva negotiating text, as well as suggestions for paragraphs appropriate for a decision versus the agreement, by 24 July 2015.

This is likely to result in further discussions during the next ADP meeting in Bonn from 31 August – 4 September about if and to what extent the co-chairs and the UNFCCC secretariat have accurately represented, summarised and interpreted the Parties’ positions. Unfortunately, there are only 10 more negotiating days scheduled before COP21 in Paris.

Reporting from Bonn: with signs of slow progress, the session approaches its end

10 June 2015

Today is the tenth day of negotiations in Bonn, Germany, which is scheduled to conclude tomorrow 11th June.

Over the last few days, since the meetings started on 1st June, Parties have been engaging in a first and second reading of the Geneva negotiating text, working through facilitated meetings to help streamline and consolidate the text.

The goal for the Bonn meeting is to deliver a shorter, clearer and more workable negotiating text, working toward a successful outcome in Paris this December. Yet, with some paragraphs proving too difficult to consolidate, the pace of the progress continues to be, overall, remarkably slow. Commenting on the reduction by only 5% after three days of arduous work (and not much more thereafter), country delegates feel that not enough progress has been made so far, and work needs to intensify in earnest. Further updates on the streamlined text are expected to come out soon.

Twenty negotiating days are available before COP 21 in Paris. Half of this time is being spent here in Bonn. As noted by a delegate, a more manageable negotiating text is urgently needed to start addressing “the real issues on the table” and allow for substantive negotiations to begin. Contentious issues yet to be discussed include the crosscutting issue of differentiation and the legal form of the agreement. Further clarity on INCDs, the length of these commitments, review mechanisms, and their legal character, is also needed.

LRI has been supporting delegates from some of the smallest delegations since the start of the session. As usual, their queries have reflected developments in the discussions. A number of delegates have asked us for clarification on the legal standing of the Geneva text and other texts being considered in Bonn. Also, as the issue of legal form of the Paris agreement is gaining momentum, a number of delegates asked us to identify the possible options available. With INDCs being a key part of this agreement, the question of how these could be integrated has also been raised for analysis. Finally, a question on which we have provided extensive advice during the last days relates to what kind of deal might be acceptable to the US and the constitutional constraints on the US ratifying a legally binding agreement.

Register [here] to access our database containing all pieces of legal advice and legal briefings.

Outside the negotiations, LRI’s Executive Director Christoph Schwarte gave a talk for students, staff and other lawyers on “international law and the climate negotiations” at the university of Bonn.

He had been invited by Prof Talmon of the Institute for Public International Law as part of a lecture series on international law. With him came Edward Wabwoto, a Kenyan lawyer and negotiator, who has been working with LRI for several years. A day after the conclusion of the G7 summit in Germany, participants were excited to hear about the role of lawyers and the law in the international negotiations; and from a ‘real’ negotiator. However, a show of hands indicated that most of them felt that it was unlikely that the ADP negotiations would conclude with a new agreement in Paris.

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

29 May 2015

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”

“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:

Mainstreaming human rights in the new climate deal

13 May 2015

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  

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 12.01.36

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

29 April 2015

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.

2015-04-22 13.58.15 (modified)3

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.