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COP@King's Climate Negotiation Masterclass

Posted on 05/07/2017

With the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement, international law and negotiation have never been more vital to the global response to climate change. Lawyers have always played a central role in crafting international treaties, but the urgency of the climate challenge has increased the pressure on these negotiations to deliver strong outcomes at scale and speed. To respond to this challenge, King’s College London hosted a Negotiation Masterclass on 19 June 2017 for the next generation of international lawyers and climate change leaders. The group of participants was strongly gender-balanced, and included doctoral and master’s students and practicing lawyers from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America.

The masterclass began with welcoming remarks from Dr Megan Bowman, co-founder of the new Climate Law & Governance hub in The Dickson Poon School of Law which hosted the event. Presentations were then given by climate negotiators and academics. Dr George Adamson, Lecturer in Geography at King’s College London, gave an overview of climate science and how it has informed international policy and negotiations. Professor Daniel Bodansky, King’s Visiting Professor in Climate Law & Governance, Foundation Professor of Law at Arizona State University and a former climate change coordinator for the U.S. Department of State, discussed the development of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Susan Biniaz, Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and until recently the lead climate lawyer for the U.S. Department of State, shared her insights into the negotiation of the Paris Agreement and the experience of climate diplomacy. Laura Hanning Scarborough, Associate Partner of the Centre for Multilateral Negotiations and a former climate negotiator for the European Union, discussed the dynamics of coordinating a country group at the UNFCCC talks. Stephen Minas, chief designer of the masterclass and Senior Research Fellow at the Transnational Law Institute in The Dickson Poon School of Law, introduced the topic of the simulated negotiation with background on the development of market-based mechanisms under the Climate Convention.

In the afternoon, participants engaged in a simulated negotiation drawn from current, real-world challenges faced by governments in giving effect to the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC, through its Conference of Parties (COP). In the simulated negotiation, participants represented countries and country groups spanning a wide range of negotiating positions, as well as business and environmental NGO observer constituencies. The participants engaged in a complex negotiation on developing the ‘rulebook’ for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which includes cooperative approaches to implementation of national climate actions, a new mechanism to support climate mitigation and sustainable development, and non-market approaches. The simulated negotiation drew on documents from the May UNFCCC session, and participants used actual Party positions to frame their negotiating stances. The day wrapped up with a closing plenary session, followed by a debrief, during which participants reflected on the masterclass and opportunities to apply the experience in their own work and studies.

Following the event, Stephen Minas said: ‘The UNFCCC negotiation may be a highly specialised process, but its outcomes concern us all. This event offered talented lawyers and researchers an insight into that process, hopefully equipping them to participate as future negotiators, researchers, or civil society observers.’

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