Climate Law & Governance Day 2019:
Strengthening Legal Foundations for Climate Ambition & Compliance
Held on Friday 6 December 2019, during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP25 at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Faculty of Law
Introducing Climate Law & Governance Day 2019
Law and governance innovation, worldwide, can provide a crucial tool for achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
The importance of legal reform cannot be understated: over 160 of 188 countries stressed plans for legal and institutional reform in their intended Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) when they ratified the Paris Agreement. Countries are increasingly integrating their climate change commitments into their national laws. Currently, over 1,800 new climate laws and policies have been recorded worldwide, with over 100 new laws in the last few years since Paris.Strengthening capacity for meaningful implementation of the treaty is of central importance, with 24 of 28 recently analysed NDCs referring to the need for new laws and institutions, and capacity to make them work on the ground. Meanwhile, public interest in climate litigation is rising, with over 300 cases initiated worldwide.
On Friday 6 December 2019, on Spain’s historic National Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución), over 300 participants from across the world gathered at the Faculty of Law at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid for the 5th annual Climate Law & Governance Day (CLGD) symposium alongside the UNFCCC COP25, marking the event the biggest since the inaugural CLGD in Paris alongside COP21 in 2015. The event, accredited by the COP25 Presidency, was led by the Climate Law & Governance Initiative (CLGI) consortium of over 120 partners, and hosted by leading climate law experts from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the University of Chile, the University of Cambridge and the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL).
What happened at CLGD 2019?
Across a full day of 14 intensive expert panel and roundtable sessions and high-level plenaries, judges, legal practitioners, academics, university deans, researchers, students and professors shared knowledge and charted key trends and insights on strengthening legal foundations for climate ambition and compliance, with a focus on legal innovations and solutions in three key areas:
- Advancing Paris Agreement Innovations – New Rules for Transparency, Markets & Non-Market Instruments, Finance, Loss & Damage, Compliance & Safeguards;
- Scaling-up National & Regional Climate Legal Frameworks for Action – Effective Climate Governance, Ecosystems-Based & Human Rights Responses, Human Mobility & Climate Justice Litigation;
- Local & Global Interlinkages & Engagement – Climate Change in Regimes on Oceans, Biodiversity, Ozone, Civil Aviation, Trade, Investment, Peace & Security.
‘Law has a key role to play both in terms of implementing the current NDCs as well as unlocking, for 2020, areas of enhancement and ambition aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, both for mitigation and adaptation. When it comes specifically to adaptation, coherence and cohesion in legal frameworks at the local, national, regional and international levels are of paramount importance for the national adaptation plans and to leave no one behind, in particular the most vulnerable.’
The diverse array of sessions included experts panels exploring prospects for advancing climate action through legislation, developments in climate litigation, the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, and links between the climate regime and oceans governance, international investment, and disclosure & dispute settlement mechanisms. Sessions also addressed the importance of transparency to climate governance, the potential for Paris Agreement objectives to be advanced through low carbon and energy efficient procurement, issues relating to energy transition and regulation, and prospects for a global climate constitution. Further, academics and legal experts explored country-specific issues relating to climate law and the implications of COP24 for future policy directions. The Day culminated in two high-level plenaries, focusing on advancing Paris Agreement implementation through legal practice and negotiation, and enhancing climate change responses through legal research and teaching.
‘Climate change is the justice challenge of our time. To hold warming within 1.5 degrees worldwide calls for scaledup ambition and action, across all professions and sectors of our economy and our society, right now.’
CLGD 2019 concluded with the announcement of the winners of the Global Climate Law and Governance Student Essay Competition, and the first-ever Climate Law and Governance Global Leadership Awards.
Highlighting CLGD Outcomes at COP25
In a special briefing on 10 December 2019 at the UNFCCC Pavilion, outcomes and findings from CLGD 2019 were shared with members of COP25 delegations, with welcoming remarks provided by Ms. Hafida Lahouiel, Head of the UNFCCC Secretariat Legal Office.
The CLGI Secretariat sincerely thanks all partners, session hosts and CLGI Programme Committee Members for their contributions to making CLGD 2019 a success. With key issues for COP26 in Glasgow, UK, already emerging, the stage has been set for an enriching CLGD in 2020.
‘It was a true honour to host Climate Law & Governance Day this year, and particularly special to hold this day on Spain’s National Constitution Day. We look forward to collaborating with CLGI into next year and beyond.’