Christiana Figueres Executive Secretary, UNFCCC speaks on December 1, 2014 in Lima, Peru. (UNclimatechange Photo via Flickr CC)
Christiana Figueres Executive Secretary, UNFCCC speaks on December 1, 2014 in Lima, Peru. (UNclimatechange Photo via Flickr CC)

An international law issue that impacts global innovation, prosperity, sustainability and security is climate change. It will be a particular focus of attention in this blog over the coming days, as the UNFCCC COP 20 proceeds in Lima, Peru.

ILRP Senior Research Fellow David Estrin and I are attending the official meetings and side events to build global support for Climate Change Justice (see the International Bar Association report led by David Estrin) and to leverage international law expertise to develop practical approaches to addressing climate change mitigation in the lead up to the Paris COP 21 in December 2015. According to the official Lima COP 20 website, this is what is at stake:

In Lima, governments meeting under the “Ad Hoc Work Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action" (ADP) need to define the scope and the type of contributions they will provide to the Paris agreement, along with clarity on how finance, technology and capacity building will be handled.

At Lima COP20 Countries will put forward what they plan to contribute to the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, well in advance of the Paris conference in December of next year.

The Lima conference needs to provide final clarity on what the INDCs need to contain, including for developing countries who are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.

Ms. Figueres [Christiana Figueres is the Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention] welcomed the leadership of the EU, the US and China, who have publically announced their post-2020 climate targets and visions.

“It is hugely encouraging that well ahead of next year’s first quarter deadline, countries have already been outlining what they intend to contribute to the Paris agreement. This is also a clear sign that countries are determined to find common ground and maximize the potential of international cooperation,” she said.

“Countries are working hard to increase emission reductions before 2020, when the Paris agreement is set to enter into effect. Pathways on how to accomplish this will also be a key issue before nations in Lima,” she added.

Governments need to work towards streamlining elements of a draft agreement for Paris 2015 and explore common ground on unresolved issues in order to achieve a balanced, well-structured, coherent draft for the next round of work on the text in February next year.

The COP 20 officially started on December 1, with “wind in its sails” thanks to recent EU, US and Chinese announcements, as Christina Figueres commented, but enormous and critical tasks remain to be accomplished with little time. This blog will comment on developments over the coming days.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.
  • Oonagh E. Fitzgerald was director of international law at CIGI from April 2014 to February 2020. In this role, she established and oversaw CIGI’s international law research agenda, which included policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, IP law and innovation, and Indigenous law.