Tag Archives: Climate negotiations

UNESCO link ‘helps to greenwash gas exporters’

EXCLUSIVE: A leading UN agency, UNESCO, is harming action on the climate crisis by partnering with natural gas exporters, critics say.

OTTAWA, 8 February, 2021− UNESCO, a prominent United Nations agency, is undercutting global action on the climate emergency, analysts and campaigners warn, by forming a partnership with a global forum dedicated to promoting and greenwashing natural gas exports.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has repeatedly warned that humanity’s “utterly inadequate” response to the climate emergency is already producing extreme weather and dramatic consequences around the world.

“We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions,” he said during COP-25, the (ultimately “disgraceful”) 2019 UN climate conference in Madrid.

In 2018 Guterres called the 1.5°C pathways report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change an “ear-splitting wake-up call” for action.

But none of that has stopped another key member of the UN family, the Paris-based UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), from agreeing a partnership with the Doha, Qatar-based Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a 20-member organisation formed in 2008 to promote “coordination and collaboration” among the world’s leading gas-producing countries.

The GECF’s latest mid-century Global Gas Outlook sees gas increasing from 23% to between 27 and 29% of global energy demand by 2050.

That’s the same year countries are intent on hitting net-zero emissions in a bid to hold average global warming to below 1.5°C. Fossil gas is composed 70% to 90% of climate-busting methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the 20-year span in which humanity will be scrambling to get climate change under control.

The GECF outlook report foresaw natural gas as “the highest in the primary energy mix” at 27%, with fossil fuels as a whole accounting for 71% of global energy consumption in 2050. (They’re in good company.)

“When the leaders of UNESCO and gas exporters are comfortably retired, Africans will still be living with the climate legacy of the fossil fuel industry”

It projected gas production by member countries growing nearly 50% by mid-century, and production from “unconventional resources” a term for fracked gas increasing from 25 to 38% of the total, with a rising share of the demand supplied by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the gas sector soaking up US$9.7 trillion (£7tn) in investment.

“Along the way, natural gas is expected to play a vital role in decarbonisation options including natural gas-based hydrogen, also known as blue hydrogen, with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies,” the GECF-UNESCO release stated. Late last month, Italian utility giant Enel said it would shut all its gas plants by 2050 and became the latest potential buyer to declare carbon capture technology a non-starter.

In separate releases in December 2020, the GECF touted the “environmental advantage of natural gas” and what it sees as the potential of blue hydrogen − with its reliance on CCUS − to usher in a “new era of decarbonisation”. On 9 December, its secretary general, Yury Sentyurin,  told a virtual event that blue hydrogen coupled with CCUS “will play a significant role in the world’s transition to a sustainable energy future”.

The forum’s latest expert commentary, released last week, touts “carbon-neutral or green LNG” as a pathway to energy transition.

In an email to The Energy Mix, Sentyurin said the partnership with UNESCO “is expected to harness the shared values of both entities in the realm of sustainable development, natural resources management, international cooperation in education, sciences and culture, and contributing to progress across the globe.”

He and Anna Paolini, director of UNESCO’s Doha office, both cast the partnership as an opportunity to address climate change, protect biodiversity, safeguard natural heritage, “maintain a conducive environment of scientific inquiry in the field of natural science”, and promote interdisciplinary climate knowledge.

The two organisations also agreed to work together on a “Rigs-to-Reefs approach” aimed at protecting and restoring ocean ecosystems. The term refers to an emerging response to obsolete, abandoned ocean oil platforms that involves stripping them of equipment and hydrocarbon residues, then sinking them as artificial reefs, rather than incurring the cost of full removal.

Some of the world’s leading climate analysts and campaigners are decidedly unimpressed with UNESCO’s choice of strategic partners. “It’s shocking to see the UN body responsible for the preservation of science and culture getting into bed with global fossil fuel interests like this,” Power Shift Africa director Mohamed Adow told The Energy Mix in an email. “UN bodies, especially ones with ‘science’ in their title, should be holding fossil fuel producers to account, not being a useful prop in the global greenwashing of the gas industry.”

Leapfrog fossil fuels

The United Nations “is where climate change is being tackled at the international level, through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement,” he added. “This move from a sister UN body shows ignorance and a lack of strategic thinking from people who should know better.”

Adow, named last week as a recipient of the prestigious Climate Breakthrough Award, said it was “particularly offensive” of UNESCO and the GECF to “cite Africa as the location where they are most interested in working together,” at a time when a massive LNG project led by colossal fossil Total is “destroying the natural heritage of Mozambique”, with hundreds of families evicted and thousands of people losing their fishing grounds.

“Oil and gas pipelines are being fought across the continent by local people defending their cultural heritage,” he said. “They need the support of organisations like UNESCO, not to watch them side with their persecutors.”

Sentyurin, named last year as one of the top 25 influencers in Africa’s energy sector, said the forum’s members include six African countries that hold more than 90% of the continent’s proven gas reserves. He called Africa “a very important continent to the GECF”, the “next booming region in the world”, and a “game-changer for economic development”, and highlighted the “crucial role natural gas will play in reducing energy poverty in Africa”.

Not so much, Adow said, in an email written about two weeks before Sentyurin’s.

“Gas is not the answer to the climate crisis gripping Africa,” he told The Mix. “Africa has an abundance of clean energy, including wind and solar energy. Leapfrogging fossil fuels like gas to renewables is Africa’s route to sustainable, long-term prosperity, not getting shackled to gas infrastructure which will soon be obsolete.

“When the leaders of UNESCO and gas exporters are comfortably retired, Africans will still be living with the climate legacy of the fossil fuel industry and the environmental and cultural destruction it has caused.”

UK-based climate policy consultant Alison Doig cast the partnership as a bid by the GECF to boost its own legitimacy “while promoting a strategy that is incompatible with keeping global temperature rise within safe limits.”

Survival target

By accepting the GECF’s premise that gas consumption will continue to rise, she said UNESCO “completely undermines its responsibility as guardian of our global heritage,” compromising its own central role in science education by being “tied to messages which are not aligned with a climate-safe energy transition.”

Doig said UNESCO “should rightly be creating alliances to enhance action on climate change,” at a time when “many World Heritage sites are already exposed to the impacts of climate change, with floods, storms, and drought threatening the very fabric of the buildings, monuments, and locations” at the core of the agency’s mandate.

With the UNFCCC presenting pathways to keep average global warming below 1.5°, she added, “other UN agencies including UNESCO should be part of this scientific discussion, and focus climate science education on that goal.”

Climate Action Network-International senior advisor Stephan Singer said it was “very upsetting” to see UNESCO enter a partnership deal with the majority of the world’s fossil gas producers and exporters that contains no reference to the 1.5°C target under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

That goal is a “survival target for many vulnerable developing countries,” he added, and “the full phase-out of fossil fuels and phase-in of renewables is imperative to meet the climate challenge.”

UNESCO’s Paolini said the agency “works to build the widest coalition possible to tackle climate change and achieve the global goals”. The agency “engaged with the GECF in order to bring its member states’ attention to our reports and articles on today’s environmental challenges, the issue of climate change, and its impact on all aspects of our lives, including our fixed, natural, and living heritage,” she explained.

“By sharing information, leveraging opportunities from within, we believe we can promote our agenda to an audience that we would not readily reach and initiate a debate and dialogue with industry professionals, researchers, governmental officials, and diplomats. It would be a strategic mistake not to seize this opportunity.”

Asked how UNESCO sees the future development of gas exports, given the industry’s prime role as a producer of methane, she replied: “We can shout from the sidelines or we can engage, point to the science, and attempt to change attitudes and the industry.” − Climate News Network

* * * * * * *

Republished by permission from The Energy Mix, a thrice-weekly e-digest on climate, energy and post-carbon solutions.

EXCLUSIVE: A leading UN agency, UNESCO, is harming action on the climate crisis by partnering with natural gas exporters, critics say.

OTTAWA, 8 February, 2021− UNESCO, a prominent United Nations agency, is undercutting global action on the climate emergency, analysts and campaigners warn, by forming a partnership with a global forum dedicated to promoting and greenwashing natural gas exports.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has repeatedly warned that humanity’s “utterly inadequate” response to the climate emergency is already producing extreme weather and dramatic consequences around the world.

“We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions,” he said during COP-25, the (ultimately “disgraceful”) 2019 UN climate conference in Madrid.

In 2018 Guterres called the 1.5°C pathways report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change an “ear-splitting wake-up call” for action.

But none of that has stopped another key member of the UN family, the Paris-based UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), from agreeing a partnership with the Doha, Qatar-based Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a 20-member organisation formed in 2008 to promote “coordination and collaboration” among the world’s leading gas-producing countries.

The GECF’s latest mid-century Global Gas Outlook sees gas increasing from 23% to between 27 and 29% of global energy demand by 2050.

That’s the same year countries are intent on hitting net-zero emissions in a bid to hold average global warming to below 1.5°C. Fossil gas is composed 70% to 90% of climate-busting methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the 20-year span in which humanity will be scrambling to get climate change under control.

The GECF outlook report foresaw natural gas as “the highest in the primary energy mix” at 27%, with fossil fuels as a whole accounting for 71% of global energy consumption in 2050. (They’re in good company.)

“When the leaders of UNESCO and gas exporters are comfortably retired, Africans will still be living with the climate legacy of the fossil fuel industry”

It projected gas production by member countries growing nearly 50% by mid-century, and production from “unconventional resources” a term for fracked gas increasing from 25 to 38% of the total, with a rising share of the demand supplied by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the gas sector soaking up US$9.7 trillion (£7tn) in investment.

“Along the way, natural gas is expected to play a vital role in decarbonisation options including natural gas-based hydrogen, also known as blue hydrogen, with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies,” the GECF-UNESCO release stated. Late last month, Italian utility giant Enel said it would shut all its gas plants by 2050 and became the latest potential buyer to declare carbon capture technology a non-starter.

In separate releases in December 2020, the GECF touted the “environmental advantage of natural gas” and what it sees as the potential of blue hydrogen − with its reliance on CCUS − to usher in a “new era of decarbonisation”. On 9 December, its secretary general, Yury Sentyurin,  told a virtual event that blue hydrogen coupled with CCUS “will play a significant role in the world’s transition to a sustainable energy future”.

The forum’s latest expert commentary, released last week, touts “carbon-neutral or green LNG” as a pathway to energy transition.

In an email to The Energy Mix, Sentyurin said the partnership with UNESCO “is expected to harness the shared values of both entities in the realm of sustainable development, natural resources management, international cooperation in education, sciences and culture, and contributing to progress across the globe.”

He and Anna Paolini, director of UNESCO’s Doha office, both cast the partnership as an opportunity to address climate change, protect biodiversity, safeguard natural heritage, “maintain a conducive environment of scientific inquiry in the field of natural science”, and promote interdisciplinary climate knowledge.

The two organisations also agreed to work together on a “Rigs-to-Reefs approach” aimed at protecting and restoring ocean ecosystems. The term refers to an emerging response to obsolete, abandoned ocean oil platforms that involves stripping them of equipment and hydrocarbon residues, then sinking them as artificial reefs, rather than incurring the cost of full removal.

Some of the world’s leading climate analysts and campaigners are decidedly unimpressed with UNESCO’s choice of strategic partners. “It’s shocking to see the UN body responsible for the preservation of science and culture getting into bed with global fossil fuel interests like this,” Power Shift Africa director Mohamed Adow told The Energy Mix in an email. “UN bodies, especially ones with ‘science’ in their title, should be holding fossil fuel producers to account, not being a useful prop in the global greenwashing of the gas industry.”

Leapfrog fossil fuels

The United Nations “is where climate change is being tackled at the international level, through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement,” he added. “This move from a sister UN body shows ignorance and a lack of strategic thinking from people who should know better.”

Adow, named last week as a recipient of the prestigious Climate Breakthrough Award, said it was “particularly offensive” of UNESCO and the GECF to “cite Africa as the location where they are most interested in working together,” at a time when a massive LNG project led by colossal fossil Total is “destroying the natural heritage of Mozambique”, with hundreds of families evicted and thousands of people losing their fishing grounds.

“Oil and gas pipelines are being fought across the continent by local people defending their cultural heritage,” he said. “They need the support of organisations like UNESCO, not to watch them side with their persecutors.”

Sentyurin, named last year as one of the top 25 influencers in Africa’s energy sector, said the forum’s members include six African countries that hold more than 90% of the continent’s proven gas reserves. He called Africa “a very important continent to the GECF”, the “next booming region in the world”, and a “game-changer for economic development”, and highlighted the “crucial role natural gas will play in reducing energy poverty in Africa”.

Not so much, Adow said, in an email written about two weeks before Sentyurin’s.

“Gas is not the answer to the climate crisis gripping Africa,” he told The Mix. “Africa has an abundance of clean energy, including wind and solar energy. Leapfrogging fossil fuels like gas to renewables is Africa’s route to sustainable, long-term prosperity, not getting shackled to gas infrastructure which will soon be obsolete.

“When the leaders of UNESCO and gas exporters are comfortably retired, Africans will still be living with the climate legacy of the fossil fuel industry and the environmental and cultural destruction it has caused.”

UK-based climate policy consultant Alison Doig cast the partnership as a bid by the GECF to boost its own legitimacy “while promoting a strategy that is incompatible with keeping global temperature rise within safe limits.”

Survival target

By accepting the GECF’s premise that gas consumption will continue to rise, she said UNESCO “completely undermines its responsibility as guardian of our global heritage,” compromising its own central role in science education by being “tied to messages which are not aligned with a climate-safe energy transition.”

Doig said UNESCO “should rightly be creating alliances to enhance action on climate change,” at a time when “many World Heritage sites are already exposed to the impacts of climate change, with floods, storms, and drought threatening the very fabric of the buildings, monuments, and locations” at the core of the agency’s mandate.

With the UNFCCC presenting pathways to keep average global warming below 1.5°, she added, “other UN agencies including UNESCO should be part of this scientific discussion, and focus climate science education on that goal.”

Climate Action Network-International senior advisor Stephan Singer said it was “very upsetting” to see UNESCO enter a partnership deal with the majority of the world’s fossil gas producers and exporters that contains no reference to the 1.5°C target under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

That goal is a “survival target for many vulnerable developing countries,” he added, and “the full phase-out of fossil fuels and phase-in of renewables is imperative to meet the climate challenge.”

UNESCO’s Paolini said the agency “works to build the widest coalition possible to tackle climate change and achieve the global goals”. The agency “engaged with the GECF in order to bring its member states’ attention to our reports and articles on today’s environmental challenges, the issue of climate change, and its impact on all aspects of our lives, including our fixed, natural, and living heritage,” she explained.

“By sharing information, leveraging opportunities from within, we believe we can promote our agenda to an audience that we would not readily reach and initiate a debate and dialogue with industry professionals, researchers, governmental officials, and diplomats. It would be a strategic mistake not to seize this opportunity.”

Asked how UNESCO sees the future development of gas exports, given the industry’s prime role as a producer of methane, she replied: “We can shout from the sidelines or we can engage, point to the science, and attempt to change attitudes and the industry.” − Climate News Network

* * * * * * *

Republished by permission from The Energy Mix, a thrice-weekly e-digest on climate, energy and post-carbon solutions.

New hope for the climate with US/China agreement?

For immediate release The agreement by China to phase out one of the most potent greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has led to hopes that progress to combat climate change might finally be made. LONDON June 12 – One of the great stumbling blocks of climate talks in the last 15 years has been that America refuses to move to cut emissions of greenhouse gases until China does – but at the weekend leaders of the world’s two great polluters reached agreement to phase out one of the most potent of them hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs). It was heralded as a great breakthrough, and if it works it will seriously improve the chances of the world avoiding dangerous climate change. But curiously the phasing out of HCFs will be carried out under the Montreal Protocol and not the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Montreal Protocol was set up before the climate change convention to deal with a completely different threat, the hole in the ozone layer. It has always been a more successful international forum for agreement. This is because the chemicals that were causing the problem with the ozone layer were made in a relatively few countries and by large manufacturers. As a result governments were able to control emissions quickly and directly by regulating the industry and creating deadlines to find non-harmful substitutes. Optimism The problem was that in solving one problem by producing substitute chemicals that did not hurt the ozone layer, another was made worse. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases, 1,000 times more so than carbon dioxide. So the agreement to phase them out taken at the week-end, instigated by President Barack Obama and agreed by President Xi Jinping of China, will save the equivalent of two years worth of current global warming emissions. Very important is the fact that while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for at least 100 years HFCs fall out of the atmosphere in a few years staving off rapid warming. So phasing them out is extremely good news for the environment. The big question is whether this will translate into action on other greenhouse gases, particularly since this needs to be done under the Climate Change Convention and not the Montreal Protocol. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was optimistic. The announcement, Mr. Steiner said  “could signal a new and perhaps transformational chapter in international cooperation on climate change. “Along with a variety of recent signals from several key countries including China and the United States, this one on HFCs by these two key economies is welcome as the world moves towards a universal UN treaty on climate change by 2015.” “It is widely recognized that securing a meaningful treaty and keeping an average global temperature rise under 2 degrees C this century will require all hands on deck—what, however, must not be overlooked or sidelined is the urgency to also tackle the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as part of negotiations underway under the UN Climate Convention.” Six million die This last of Mr Steiner’s points appears to be the problem. By comparison with carbon dioxide HFCs are an easier problem to solve. Even before the US/China agreement 112 countries had urged phasing them out and a group called the Consumer Goods Forum, a global network of several hundred retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders from over 70 countries had agreed to begin phasing out HFC refrigerants beginning in 2015. But governments may also be able to reach agreement on other short-lived greenhouse gases, according to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Of these the principle culprits are methane, low-level ozone, which also damages health and crops, and black carbon soot, which kills an estimated six million people a year. Methane can be captured and used as a fuel and cutting out the other two has important economic incentives as well as saving lives. Perhaps the biggest single factor is the attitude of the new Chinese government. Despite the lack of democracy the Chinese are under pressure from the population because of the horrific effect of pollution on daily life, particularly the health of children. Unlike most of the American population the Chinese also realize that climate change is a threat to their economy as well as their health. Come the next round of climate talks in Warsaw in November it may be China trying to persuade the Americans and reluctant parties like Brazil and India that action on carbon dioxide is needed too. – Climate News Network

For immediate release The agreement by China to phase out one of the most potent greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has led to hopes that progress to combat climate change might finally be made. LONDON June 12 – One of the great stumbling blocks of climate talks in the last 15 years has been that America refuses to move to cut emissions of greenhouse gases until China does – but at the weekend leaders of the world’s two great polluters reached agreement to phase out one of the most potent of them hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs). It was heralded as a great breakthrough, and if it works it will seriously improve the chances of the world avoiding dangerous climate change. But curiously the phasing out of HCFs will be carried out under the Montreal Protocol and not the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Montreal Protocol was set up before the climate change convention to deal with a completely different threat, the hole in the ozone layer. It has always been a more successful international forum for agreement. This is because the chemicals that were causing the problem with the ozone layer were made in a relatively few countries and by large manufacturers. As a result governments were able to control emissions quickly and directly by regulating the industry and creating deadlines to find non-harmful substitutes. Optimism The problem was that in solving one problem by producing substitute chemicals that did not hurt the ozone layer, another was made worse. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases, 1,000 times more so than carbon dioxide. So the agreement to phase them out taken at the week-end, instigated by President Barack Obama and agreed by President Xi Jinping of China, will save the equivalent of two years worth of current global warming emissions. Very important is the fact that while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for at least 100 years HFCs fall out of the atmosphere in a few years staving off rapid warming. So phasing them out is extremely good news for the environment. The big question is whether this will translate into action on other greenhouse gases, particularly since this needs to be done under the Climate Change Convention and not the Montreal Protocol. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was optimistic. The announcement, Mr. Steiner said  “could signal a new and perhaps transformational chapter in international cooperation on climate change. “Along with a variety of recent signals from several key countries including China and the United States, this one on HFCs by these two key economies is welcome as the world moves towards a universal UN treaty on climate change by 2015.” “It is widely recognized that securing a meaningful treaty and keeping an average global temperature rise under 2 degrees C this century will require all hands on deck—what, however, must not be overlooked or sidelined is the urgency to also tackle the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as part of negotiations underway under the UN Climate Convention.” Six million die This last of Mr Steiner’s points appears to be the problem. By comparison with carbon dioxide HFCs are an easier problem to solve. Even before the US/China agreement 112 countries had urged phasing them out and a group called the Consumer Goods Forum, a global network of several hundred retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders from over 70 countries had agreed to begin phasing out HFC refrigerants beginning in 2015. But governments may also be able to reach agreement on other short-lived greenhouse gases, according to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Of these the principle culprits are methane, low-level ozone, which also damages health and crops, and black carbon soot, which kills an estimated six million people a year. Methane can be captured and used as a fuel and cutting out the other two has important economic incentives as well as saving lives. Perhaps the biggest single factor is the attitude of the new Chinese government. Despite the lack of democracy the Chinese are under pressure from the population because of the horrific effect of pollution on daily life, particularly the health of children. Unlike most of the American population the Chinese also realize that climate change is a threat to their economy as well as their health. Come the next round of climate talks in Warsaw in November it may be China trying to persuade the Americans and reluctant parties like Brazil and India that action on carbon dioxide is needed too. – Climate News Network

British lawyers aid climate teams

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE British lawyers are giving a week of their time and expertise to equip colleagues from the developing world to play an effective part in the complex UN climate negotiations. LONDON, 1 April – To help poor countries to play an effective part in the UN’s global climate negotiations, a group of UK lawyers are spending this week sharing their expertise with colleagues from across the developing world. Seven lawyers who are members of their countries’ national negotiation teams at the climate talks are meeting at a City of London law firm, Simmons & Simmons, which is providing help in kind, for five days of legal training by leading UK practitioners and academics. The training programme has been organised by the Legal Response Initiative (LRI). Its chairman Nick Flynn, an environmental lawyer, says: “The international climate negotiations are amongst the most complicated and complex multilateral law processes ever. “Meetings are often characterised by technical jargon, conflicting interpretations of legal obligations and the use of procedural rules.” The week will include sessions on the international climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the labyrinthine workings of its annual meeting, the Conference of the Parties. The international community has agreed to reach a new climate deal by 2015. Before then developing countries will be able to put their concerns and needs on the table. But to make compelling arguments, draft sound legal texts and forge compromises they need a good understanding of public international law and the international legal framework on climate. Richard Dyton, a partner at Simmons & Simmons, says: “In order to give least developed and other particularly vulnerable countries that have hardly contributed to the problem and are already seriously affected by climate change a fair deal, we cannot allow their delegations to be regularly ‘outgunned’ by the legal teams of industrialised nations and emerging economies.” The training participants are from Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Papua-New Guinea, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. After they return from London, some of them will hold further training workshops for colleagues back home. The training programme is sponsored and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development and the Dutch Government through the Climate Development Knowledge Network. Ironically, an eighth would-be participant – a lawyer from Ethiopia – was refused a visa to enter Britain by another branch of the UK Government.

“The climate talks are not a fair and equitable decision-making process”

The Legal Response Initiative works through a network of 160 lawyer associates in 15 countries or territories who provide free legal advice to developing countries and civil society observer organisations in connection with the climate talks. It also provides on-the-spot advice when the talks are in session. Christoph Schwarte, LRI’s executive director, says this is the first time it has tried to build the capacity of lawyers from the South. “There’s a massive gap”, he says. “Rather than us constantly giving advice, it should be lawyers in the countries themselves who give the advice, and we’re trying to build more of a southern network. “I try to be realistic, and I don’t think we’ll ever level the playing field. The climate talks are not a fair and equitable decision-making process. These guys run around like mad participating in the negotiations, but they have so much else on their plates as well – they’re working on human rights, trade, protecting the natural world. “Lawyers are quite keen to be involved in LRI. They have a good sense of justice, and they appreciate the opportunity to make a contribution to global justice through the Initiative.” In Durban in 2011, governments agreed to work towards a new international agreement on climate, to be completed by 2015 and to enter into force from 2020. During 2012 the negotiations were often bogged down by procedural issues. They will continue in Germany from 29 April to 3 May. The Climate Development Knowledge Network works to support decision-makers in designing and delivering climate-compatible development, with British and Dutch Government funding. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE British lawyers are giving a week of their time and expertise to equip colleagues from the developing world to play an effective part in the complex UN climate negotiations. LONDON, 1 April – To help poor countries to play an effective part in the UN’s global climate negotiations, a group of UK lawyers are spending this week sharing their expertise with colleagues from across the developing world. Seven lawyers who are members of their countries’ national negotiation teams at the climate talks are meeting at a City of London law firm, Simmons & Simmons, which is providing help in kind, for five days of legal training by leading UK practitioners and academics. The training programme has been organised by the Legal Response Initiative (LRI). Its chairman Nick Flynn, an environmental lawyer, says: “The international climate negotiations are amongst the most complicated and complex multilateral law processes ever. “Meetings are often characterised by technical jargon, conflicting interpretations of legal obligations and the use of procedural rules.” The week will include sessions on the international climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the labyrinthine workings of its annual meeting, the Conference of the Parties. The international community has agreed to reach a new climate deal by 2015. Before then developing countries will be able to put their concerns and needs on the table. But to make compelling arguments, draft sound legal texts and forge compromises they need a good understanding of public international law and the international legal framework on climate. Richard Dyton, a partner at Simmons & Simmons, says: “In order to give least developed and other particularly vulnerable countries that have hardly contributed to the problem and are already seriously affected by climate change a fair deal, we cannot allow their delegations to be regularly ‘outgunned’ by the legal teams of industrialised nations and emerging economies.” The training participants are from Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Papua-New Guinea, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. After they return from London, some of them will hold further training workshops for colleagues back home. The training programme is sponsored and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development and the Dutch Government through the Climate Development Knowledge Network. Ironically, an eighth would-be participant – a lawyer from Ethiopia – was refused a visa to enter Britain by another branch of the UK Government.

“The climate talks are not a fair and equitable decision-making process”

The Legal Response Initiative works through a network of 160 lawyer associates in 15 countries or territories who provide free legal advice to developing countries and civil society observer organisations in connection with the climate talks. It also provides on-the-spot advice when the talks are in session. Christoph Schwarte, LRI’s executive director, says this is the first time it has tried to build the capacity of lawyers from the South. “There’s a massive gap”, he says. “Rather than us constantly giving advice, it should be lawyers in the countries themselves who give the advice, and we’re trying to build more of a southern network. “I try to be realistic, and I don’t think we’ll ever level the playing field. The climate talks are not a fair and equitable decision-making process. These guys run around like mad participating in the negotiations, but they have so much else on their plates as well – they’re working on human rights, trade, protecting the natural world. “Lawyers are quite keen to be involved in LRI. They have a good sense of justice, and they appreciate the opportunity to make a contribution to global justice through the Initiative.” In Durban in 2011, governments agreed to work towards a new international agreement on climate, to be completed by 2015 and to enter into force from 2020. During 2012 the negotiations were often bogged down by procedural issues. They will continue in Germany from 29 April to 3 May. The Climate Development Knowledge Network works to support decision-makers in designing and delivering climate-compatible development, with British and Dutch Government funding. – Climate News Network