Matrix barrister new LRI chair

Kate Cook of Matrix barristers chambers has been appointed as the new chair of LRI’s board of trustees on 16 March 2015. The board of trustees oversees the work of LRI and provides strategic direction to the organisation.

Kate Cook, fourth from the left, with LRI staff and board members

Kate Cook, fourth from left, with LRI staff and fellow board members








As a barrister Kate specializes in environmental law and public international law. She has argued cases in the International Court of Justice and is a member of the UK government’s advice panels on public international law. She takes over from Richard Dyton – the pro-bono partner at Simmons & Simmons.

On her appointment Kate stated that she was “looking forward to working with the team and all the volunteer lawyers involved in the LRI to provide maximum support to developing countries at such a crucial point in time – the leadup to Paris.”

Geneva delivers text ahead of schedule

One day before the closure of the ADP meeting, the official negotiating text was completed and released online. Access [here]

With additions and amendments made by Parties in Geneva, the 37-page Lima Text has increased to 86 pages. While Geneva managed to deliver the expected text and close the meeting on a note of success, the challenge ahead is big. Parties now need to ‘streamline’ this long consolidated document, packed with different, and often conflicting, country positions and interests. This work has been left for Bonn, in June, when the next round of negotiations is due to resume.

Over 10 different country delegations have been assisted by LRI during this week. Questions have dealt with INDCs, NAPAs, the legal nature of COP decisions and the form and content of the new agreement.

Caroline Mair, environmental lawyer from Trinidad and Tobago, attending the Geneva meeting as an LRI Liaison Officer said: “It has been such a pleasure to work with the Legal Response Initiative, and I’ve enjoyed the Geneva ADP session thoroughly. Coming from a small island, I have seen firsthand the need for unique institutions such as LRI that put the needs of developing countries, in particular LDCs and SIDS, up front and foremost in the negotiations. These are the countries that need the advice the most, and LRI has done a wonderful job in attempting to level what can be a very unequal playing field. The care, attention and priority with which they treat their clients is second to none, and I have been very proud to be part of the team”.

Also this week, LRI assisted civil society organisations involved in the UNFCCC process. On Tuesday, LRI delivered a presentation on the key legal issues regarding the 2015 agreement and responded to many questions on this matter.

Reporting from Geneva: the pressure is on

Today is the third negotiation day in Geneva. Since the beginning of the meeting on Sunday, Parties have been making proposals to the Elements Text annexed to the Lima Call for Climate Action [Read LRI analysis on this]

The goal for the Geneva session is to deliver by Friday an official ‘negotiating text’ for Parties to continue their talks all the way to Paris in December this year.

As many textual amendments have been added, increasing the initial Elements Text to over 70 pages, the challenge ahead is to begin streamlining the document and finish with something everyone feels comfortable with. The pressure is on in Geneva as this is the last meeting before May, when according to the UN ‘six months rule’, the negotiating text must be completed.

As procedural matters have taken a central position, LRI has been assisting delegates with legal queries involving UNFCCC rules of procedure.

At today’s meeting in Geneva, LRI was also asked to present on the legal dimensions of the 2015 agreement, particularly looking at the potential outcomes and the issue of compliance. Participants found LRI’s clarification of legal aspects very helpful and further requests for assistance continued to flow.

Follow us on twitter @legalresponse for updates on the Geneva talks.

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Christoph Schwarte, LRI’s Director, addresses Climate Action Network (CAN) meeting