International Climate Change

The purpose of this international climate change blog is to provide the latest legal analysis of the international climate change negotiations ahead of, and beyond, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015.
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Posted on: 25 June 2019

The Heathrow judgment: what we learned about climate change law

The High Court judgment in the Heathrow third runway case is arguably the most extensive judicial reasoning on current UK climate change law to date.


Posted on: 7 June 2019

Definitely not a Treaty, but a declaratory Global Pact for the Environment

The outcome from an intense set of intergovernmental negotiations in Nairobi was dimly predictable and all-too-familiar.


Posted on: 7 May 2019

UK Climate Change Committee calls for zero emissions by 2050

The UK will become the world leader in carbon emissions reductions to 2050 if advice provided to the Government by its Climate Change Committee is accepted.


Posted on: 11 January 2019

Could a Global Pact for the Environment improve the enforcement of international climate change norms?

In November 2018, the UN Secretary-General published a report on the hotly anticipated topic of a Global Pact for the Environment.


Posted on: 17 August 2018

Europe to see its very own ‘People’s Climate Case’ before the CJEU

Following the somewhat unlikely example of the US leading the way in ‘People’s’ climate litigation, a similar action in Europe has just received the green light from Europe’s highest court.


Posted on: 29 June 2018

IPCC set to warn that 2 degrees is no longer a “safe” degree of global warming

In a revised version of the draft earlier mentioned in this blog, details of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest analysis of the impacts of different degrees of warming have just been leaked into the public domain.


Posted on: 14 May 2018

Border carbon adjustments: a solution to carbon leakage?

In 2005 the world watched with eager anticipation as the EU initiated the world’s largest carbon pricing scheme, describing it as “a cornerstone in the fight against climate change.


Posted on: 14 February 2018

2018 and the great ‘ambition’ divide

Two recent items of international climate change news have placed into stark focus one of the issues set to take centre stage later in the year.


Posted on: 26 January 2018

Norway’s expanded oil exploration deemed lawful

An interesting feature of 2018 is that adults and children are divided by the millenium in which they were born. It is perhaps fitting that the judgment in the Greenpeace Nordic and Nature and Youth v Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (referred to by the claimants as The People v Arctic Oil) was delivered in the first week of the new year.


Posted on: 22 December 2017

Climate litigation moves to the private sphere: the case of Lliuya v RWE AG

As highlighted in other recent posts on this blog, from the Netherlands to the USA to New Zealand, there is a clear trend for citizens to feel emboldened to take governments to court for a lack of action on climate change.


Posted on: 4 December 2017

The litigation effect of the Paris Agreement – New Zealand and Norway take the baton

As the dust settles from COP23, it seems clear that action on climate change remains insufficient to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. If political ambition is lacking, can litigation come to the rescue?


Posted on: 14 November 2017

COP23 and the current commitment gap – will Bonn galvanise action pre-2020?

Say “commitment gap” in the context of the climate change regime, and most people will probably think of the recent report by UNEP (the United Nations Environment Programme) highlighting the gap between Parties’ commitments under the Paris Agreement (the NDCs) and the emissions reductions required to meet the 2-degree temperature goal.


Posted on: 6 October 2017

Keeping Paris on track and tackling Trumpgate: the agenda for COP23 takes shape

Given the fragility of the legal architecture for tackling international climate change, there is no such thing as an ‘unimportant’ meeting in this arena.


Posted on: 28 July 2017

‘Utterly unprecedented’: A brief guide to America’s potentially game-changing climate case

Their lawyers fought it every step of the way, but now the US President, Secretary of State, Defence Secretary and nine federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, will have to answer in court for the simple but far-reaching legal question posed by a group of young people from Oregon: ‘Do we have a right to life in a sustainable climate?’


Posted on: 19 May 2017

Can ambition run backwards? Trump’s post-truth Paris threat

As negotiators to the UNFCCC complete their meeting in Bonn ahead of November’s COP 23, Donald Trump and his administration are considering backsliding on US commitments to the Paris Agreement, effectively applying their doctrine of ‘alternative facts’ to the global climate deal.


Posted on: 13 March 2017

Is litigation the new frontier of climate change law?

It has only created a minor ripple in mainstream news circles, but its contribution to international climate change law could be far greater. Following on from the successful cases in The Netherlands and Pakistan last year, the Federal Administrative Court of Austria has recently ruled on the incompatibility of a third runway at Vienna-Schwechat airport with the country’s national and international climate change commitments.


Posted on: 18 January 2017

Is the financial world starting to finally get to grips with climate change?

‘Money makes the world go round’ is a well-worn adage with a distinct flavour of truth in the modern era of global capitalism. Yet the links between the financial world and the stable climate upon which the planet as a whole depends have so far received limited exploration.


Posted on: 14 November 2016

COP22 and contradictions between commitments and actions

Following the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 4th November, the 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commenced in Marrakech. As if to illustrate poignantly the challenge to be met if the paper commitments are to actually prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change, two articles were published last week which reflect the extent to which the continued reality on the ground stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric and pledges at international climate change events.


Posted on: 18 October 2016

Paris Agreement entry into force: Much ado about something, but much more to do

It is nice to be reminded that, sometimes, things can happen more quickly than anticipated. The ‘best estimate’ for the crossing of the threshold for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement was the end of 2016. Instead, the threshold of 55% of Parties accounting for at least 55% of total global emissions was reached on 5th October.


Posted on: 8 July 2016

Ignoring climate risk risks liability for pension fund trustees and fund managers

Pension fund trustees and fund managers can no longer ignore the risk that climate change poses to their investments, particularly in the longer term. That was the conclusion of a high-level seminar this week to mark the two-year anniversary of the Law Commission report ‘Fiduciary Duties and Investment Intermediaries’.


Posted on: 28 April 2016

The Paris Agreement – could it be in force in 2016?

Fears that the momentum from COP21 in Paris would fizzle in the following months appear to have been dashed at the official Paris Agreement signing session which took place in New York last Friday 22nd April. Not only did representatives from 175 Parties attend to sign the Agreement, but fifteen of them – primarily small island states particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts – deposited their instruments of ratification at the same time.


Posted on: 26 February 2016

Finance, transparency and compliance – Key features of the Paris Agreement (Part Two)

Article 6 – This part of the Agreement establishes a “mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development”, a device to support implementation through both market and non-market instruments; the latter reflecting an aversion of a number of Parties to market mechanisms such as carbon trading.


Posted on: 9 February 2016

Key features of and the occasional surprise in the Paris Agreement (Part One)

The text finally agreed in Paris does not lend itself to easy navigation or digestion; the absence of sub-headings makes it necessary to dive into each paragraph in detail in order to understand the subject matter. This article will summarise the first set of key provisions and points of interest for legal practitioners.


Posted on: 18 December 2015

The Paris Agreement: Symbolism rather than historical significance

The homepage of the UNFCCC website, like most of the post-COP21 publicity, proclaims the Paris Agreement to be “historic”. It adds, as a sub-heading, that 195 countries have “set a path to keep temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius”.


Posted on: 8 December 2015

The truth about what will really enable us to tackle climate change effectively

At the heart of any discourse are assumptions that are taken to be beyond question. The dominant climate change discourse encircling the current COP21 negotiations is based on several such assumptions which therefore lie outside the scope of what is being discussed, not only by ministers and negotiators, but by also commentators.



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