LRI at COP23

Hosted by Fiji, the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP23) took place in Bonn on 6 -17 November 2017. The meeting focused on developing the so-called Paris Rule book, the rules and processes necessary to turn the Paris Agreement into climate action, whilst also recognising the importance of pre-2020 action and ambition. The main outcomes of the conference are contained in the Fiji Momentum for Implementation.

An LRI team of eight lawyers attended the COP over the two-week period, talking delegates through legal issues and forwarding more complex legal queries to expert advisers from the LRI network. The work of LRI generally reflects the developments and discussions in the negotiations. Thus, many queries related to the processes and mechanisms required for operationalizing the Paris Agreement, whilst others concerned domestic implementation. In total, LRI recorded nearly 40 formal queries, the majority from least developed countries (LDCs) and the LDC group, with the rest coming from other developing countries and civil society observer organisations.

LRI was also invited to showcase a new web based portal being developed in collaboration with UN Environment at a UNFCCC side event on tools to support the parties with implementation of the Paris Agreement and their NDC and at and at an expert roundtable at the ‘Climate Law and Governance Day’.

Reflecting on her week in Bonn as an LRI volunteer Caroline Dihl Prolo, the head of Environment at the Brazilian law firm Stocche Forbes, commented: “This is my fifth COP as an LRI liaison officer and each year it is clearer that vulnerable countries really need legal support, due to their limited human resources and the tremendous complexity of the process and the legal issues that are posed. If there were more lawyers on the ground and more organisations like LRI, discussions would be more inclusive and this would translate into progress on substance – rather than procedural disputes. Still I can see the impact in the work I do, and this is a priceless feeling.”

 

Lawyers needed for good climate legislation in the South

To implement the new Paris Agreement on climate change and their nationally determined contributions into meaningful action on the ground, governments will also have to develop new policies, legislation and institutions. Gaps in local expertise mean that law and policy makers will benefit from the experience and expertise of lawyers from other jurisdictions.

In collaboration with UNEP, LRI is therefore offering governments and parliamentarians from developing nations support free of charge in the development and review of climate and climate relevant legislation. If you are a qualified lawyer with relevant practical experience and would like to join LRI’s pro bono network – please contact Pascale Bird coordinator@legalresponseinitiave.org.

Negotiation training in Sri Lanka

To prepare junior negotiators and other government officials from Asia and the Pacific for the UNFCCC climate negotiations, LRI contributed to an ecbi regional training workshop in Sri Lanka from 6 to 7 September.

The workshop was organised by the Sri Lankan NGO Janathaksan and attended by 30 officials from, for example, Bangladesh, India, Lao, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and Tuvalu.

Through a mix of presentations and practical exercises participants were introduced to salient climate policy issues and encouraged to actively engage in the negotiations.

While the training workshop took place heavy rainfalls battered Sri Lanka – and the conference venue in the coastal town Negombo. According to the Guardian newspaper, over 1200 people are feared to have died, and 40 million estimated to have been affected by flooding across the South Asian region during the last few weeks.