Negotiating a new climate treaty? LRI panel discussion at Matrix Chambers

Christoph Schwarte, LRI Executive Director, Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Ben Lyon, from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and head of the UK delegation to the UNFCCC, participated in a lunchtime panel discussion on perspectives about the new climate change agreement. The event took place on 22 April and was hosted by Matrix Chambers.

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At the event, Christoph Schwarte provided a timely update on the state of play in the lead up to Paris 2015 and what to expect in June, when the negotiation sessions are scheduled to resume. He further explained some of the formal outcome options that the new climate agreement might cover and what the legal implications may be in each case.

Ben Lyon, on behalf of the UK delegation to the UNFCCC, provided viewpoints about what the priorities and expectations are for the UK and the European Union as a whole. He set out the political context in which the negotiations are taking place and laid out some of the key focus areas on the road to Paris.

Chief Executive of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), Sam Bickersteth, spoke about the significance of the current talks and offered perspectives about the policy work that countries are undergoing domestically as part of the international UNFCCC process. He mentioned, for example, the support that CDKN is providing to Peru for the preparation of their INDCs.

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.