European Capacity Building Initiative

“Legal jam” throws up interesting ideas for the future of the Paris Agreement

ecbi lead partner organisation Legal Response International (LRI) organised a “legal jam” on 12 December 2020, to mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Fourteen leading climate lawyers from around the world – from Australia to South America, Antarctica to Europe – presented their ideas for the future of the climate negotiations, in particular leading up to, and during, the Climate Change Conference in 2021.

The jam was chaired by former UK Supreme Court Justice Lord Carnwath, and facilitated by LRI Executive Director Christoph Schwarte. The lawyers – academics, legal advisers in the climate negotiations, and lawyer campaigners – had three minutes each to pitch their ideas on priorities for the further implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement does not currently provide a radical solution to the climate emergency. However, it is a “living instrument” that can be improved and strengthened over time by Parties. Ideas presented by some speakers included, for example, the establishment of an independent expert body to assess whether the responses included in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by countries are equitable, and in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Other speakers focused on the role of the Paris Agreement in informing law and policy responses to climate change – including, for instance, domestic legal systems to address human rights violations due to climate change; and the consideration of Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement (which calls for all financial flows to be consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development) in every public sector investment decision.

Trust-building dialogues among Parties during the 2021 Climate Change Conference, including the acceptance of past responsibilities to move jointly into a new direction based on empathy; the role of best available science; intergenerational equity; zero emissions; a rights-based ecosystem approach for a just recovery; and climate litigation were all covered by the speakers. Watch the video to learn more.

Speakers included:

• Michael Burger, Sabin Centre for Climate Change Law
• Augustine Njamnshi, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
• Dennis van Berkel, Urgenda Foundation
• Hitomi Kimura, Otsuma Women’s University
• Megan Bowman, King’s College London
• Rueanna Haynes, Climate Analytics
• Selam Abebe, Legal Adviser to the African Group of Negotiators
• Farhana Yamin, Founder Track 0

Video embed: 
» Back to listing