LRI advice before Chilean Senate

29 January 2020

The global climate conference in December 2019 was supposed to take place in Santiago de Chile. In the lead-up to the event the Chilean government published a draft climate change bill (“Anteproyecto de ley marco de cambio climatico”). A coalition of Chilean civil society organizations requested LRI to help with the review of the draft bill. Our analysis focused on whether and to what extent the draft law reflected provisions of the Paris Agreement and Rules.

The Chilean government submitted a revised draft bill to parliament on 10 January 2020. On Monday 27 January, the Environment and National Resources Commission of the Chilean Senate – the upper house of parliament – consulted 3 experts on the bill: The environment minister, Carolina Schmidt, Greenpeace’s Campaigns Director for Chile Estefanía González and the Chilean lawyer Monserrat Madariaga who leads the legal work of the civil society coalition that had requested LRI’s advice.

The advice formed part of the documents submitted by Ms Madariaga to members of the Commission. During her presentation she referred to specific aspects of the LRI analysis, including draft provisions concerning loss and damage, access to information and public participation. We were happy to help the Chilean civil society coalition and very much hope that our advice will contribute to an equitable law that promotes low carbon development but also effectively protects people from the adverse effect of climate change and supports their adaption efforts.

First LRI law clinic outside the UK

15 January 2020

During the Madrid climate conference, LRI partnered with IE University – Madrid Campus to provide support to the LRI team in the negotiations.

Despite the fact that this was an exam period, over 70 students initially expressed an interest to volunteer and undertake additional research. Following a selection process around 30 law and international relations students – most of them undergraduates – took it in turn to meet during the conference and help LRI.

Their research involved looking into topics as varied as the relationship between the Biodiversity Convention and the UNFCCC, the procedure followed by the UN General Assembly for granting an institutional relationship to a non-UN affiliated organisation, and fossil fuel production subsidies in industrialised countries.

Whilst the main objective was to assist with the advice service, this was also an opportunity to raise awareness amongst the students of the UNFCCC process and negotiations and about the importance of the legal dimension of climate change. One of the students, Tabea Boglin, commented: “Being able to participate as a researcher for LRI during COP25 was very educational as I was able to research topics I was not familiar with and learn about how different countries approach these topics. Moreover, the lawyers we worked with were very passionate about their work and gave us insights into how COP25 functioned, while sharing various experiences they have had. Not only did this opportunity allow me to become more knowledgeable but it also allowed me to contribute this knowledge for a good cause”.

Madrid Climate Change Conference

16 December 2019

LRI briefing during COMIFAC coordination meeting

The Madrid climate conference ended on Sunday after two additional days and nights. The final decision urges parties, when communicating or updating their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in 2020, to consider the existing emission gap “with a view to reflecting their highest possible ambition”. Parties did not agree on the rules to put Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (on market and non-market approaches) into operation.

During 2 weeks of climate negotiations in Madrid we recorded over 30 legal queries. Ten of those came from delegations that work together in the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), eight from members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and seven from the African Group of Negotiators (AGN). Five questions were from other developing countries (e.g. Thailand or Sri Lanka) and 4 from observer organisations.

As usual, the questions reflect the dynamics in the negotiations. For example, we worked on several queries related to Article 6 and different iterations of the draft decision text. Other questions pertained to the governance of the Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage and the privileges and immunities required by the Green Climate Fund to carry out its functions. In addition, we are advising on national implementation issues and domestic climate governance arrangements.

We are grateful to all the experts and volunteers who have been and are still supporting us in doing the necessary research and drafting legal opinions! During the Madrid conference this included a group of around 30 university students who met almost daily as part of LRI’s first law clinic outside the UK.

LRI and delegates from Nigeria and Lesotho

Round-table workshop on climate legislation in Botswana

14 October 2019

In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, LRI held a two-day round-table capacity building workshop in Gaborone, Botswana, from 9-10 October. Thirty government officials from different departments such as agriculture, transport, water and the General Attorney’s Office attended the workshop sponsored by the UK government’s Climate Ambition Support Alliance (CASA).

The first day of the workshop focused on the Paris Agreement and “Rulebook” (the decisions adopted in Katowice in December 2018) and their implications for law and policy in Botswana. During the second day, participants discussed possible approaches and processes to develop specific legislation on climate change in Botswana. The workshop facilitators, Robert Ondhowe and Christoph Schwarte, highlighted different design options, lessons learnt in other jurisdictions and the available infrastructure of support.

A member of the Attorney General’s Office commented that this was the first time such a workshop took place following the ratification of a new international treaty by Botswana. As the country’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for 23 October, it is, however, difficult to predict how soon the recently adopted climate change policy will be supplemented by further legislation. The workshop host Balisi Gopolang was optimistic and felt that following the event “now things will start to move”.

Launch of LACLIMA

3 October 2019

A network of climate change lawyers in Latin America was launched in Sao Paulo on September 7th 2019. With more than 130 members in Brazil so far, LACLIMA – Latin American Climate Lawyers Initiative for Mobilizing Action – aims to gather  lawyers from other Latin American countries, to build a critical mass in the legal community in the region, which can support regional stakeholders in understanding the legal implications of the Paris Agreement commitments at the regional level and help them translating these into action on the ground.

The initiative is supported by LRI as a sister organization, and is spear-headed by Caroline Prolo, head of environmental practice at the Brazilian law firm Stocche Forbes and long-time LRI liaison officer, in collaboration with Flávia Bellaguarda, climate change officer at ICLEI SAMS and co-founder of the Youth Climate Leaders – a social enterprise for young leadership training on climate change.

The launch event provided an opportunity for the members of the network to meet and, with other climate change experts and prominent speakers, to reflect on what role lawyers can play to promote implementation of the Paris Agreement at the regional level.