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.

Regional training workshop for Asia and the Pacific

From 31 July – 1 August 2019 another European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) training workshop for junior negotiators took place in Kathmandu, Nepal. Almost 40 government officials from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia, Vanuatu and other climate vulnerable developing countries in Asia and the Pacific region attended the workshop.

LRI contributed presentations on legal terminology and the Paris Agreement’s reporting and compliance framework to the programme. The workshop also included a general introduction to the UNFCCC process, an outlook on the months ahead and specific subject areas (e.g. mitigation and Article 6) as well as a negotiation simulation exercise. This was chaired by the new chair of the LDC group in the UNFCCC negotiation, Mr Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi from Bhutan.

London lawyers, climate change and justice

On Thursday 4 July 2019, as part of London Climate Action Week Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) hosted a panel discussion on how lawyers from very different walks of life may contribute to fair and equitable climate change responses worldwide. Under the title “London lawyers, climate change and justice” panellists reflected on a variety of approaches and projects at the international and national levels.

After a welcome by Kiran Arora of BCLP, Seth Osafo, Legal Adviser to the African Group of Negotiators in the international climate negotiations provided an introduction to the international climate policy process and its legal instruments. He highlighted in particular provisions that seek to promote climate justice between industrialized and developing countries. In response, Richard Dyton of Simmons & Simmons presented some examples of how the legal community tries to support climate vulnerable actors – whether its countries or communities. In his experience any form of injustice motivates lawyers to get actively involved in projects.

Moving from the global to the local, Gita Parihar, former legal counsel of Friends of the Earth provided several examples of on-going legal action by groups and communities in the Global South who are adversely affected by climate change. She also introduced a new London based initiative: the Climate Justice Fund.

In the current “climate emergency” human rights are increasingly at the heart of efforts to protect people and planet. Adrienne Joy, therefore, presented the work of ROLE UK – a pro-bono initiative that strengthens good governance and human rights in developing country jurisdictions. The last speaker, LRI chair Silke Golberg of Herbert Smith Freehills, stressed the need for incremental steps to address climate change that can start at home. Capacity building and working with legal communities in the South is key to gradually develop the necessary legal frameworks and skills.

Participants and panellists discussed a broad range of issues ranging from the ethical rules of the profession to climate refugees. The UK is very likely to the host the global climate change conference in 2020 which would provide a good opportunity to further involve the legal sector in climate action. We are grateful to all participants for their comments and suggestions!