Madrid Climate Change Conference

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

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

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.