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EU and foundation-funded NGO group issues suggested draft legal text of Paris climate change deal

Agreement on Climate Transformation (ACT) group hosted by World Resources Institute.

A group of environmental experts and NGOs that has been partly funded by the European Commission and US charitable foundations has put together a draft suggested text of what a climate agreement later this year in Paris could look like.

The pivotal UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) will be held in Paris from November 30-December 11 in an attempt to achieve a legally binding, global climate agreement.

Ahead of this, a group called the Agreement on Climate Transformation 2015 (ACT 2015), comprising environmental experts and non-governmental organisations, has published an unofficial first stab at a text, following consultations with “hundreds of stakeholders” from governments, business and civil society in the hope of paving the way towards a successful outcome in Paris.

The group’s suggestion is called Getting Specific on the 2015 Climate Change Agreement: Suggestions for the Legal Text with an Explanatory Memorandum. The publication “offers a set of ideas for what the international agreement could look like in legal terms and therefore serves as a reference tool for decision-makers”. It’s a working paper to stimulate discussion and there is no suggestion it reflects the views of its funders.

“The purpose of the legal suggestions is to provide ideas for consideration by countries in the negotiations,” writes Jennifer Morgan, a co-author of the report and Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Washington-based think tank which provided the secretariat for the project.

The WRI is headed up by Andrew Steer, the former Special Envoy for Climate Change at the World Bank and the ex-Director General at the UK’s Department of International Development.The preamble to the suggested text says the final agreement must “send a clear signal to policy makers, businesses, investors and the public that the low-carbon economy is not just essential – it is inevitable”.

It adds that it is important for “governments, investors, corporations and NGOs” that it provides clarity and greater predictability as to the future evolution of the
global economy. And it goes on: “The 2015 Agreement must incentivize and accelerate the shift in investment
to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies and societies, mobilizing, enabling and aligning broader financial flows to long-term goals and providing support to developing countries.

“The 2015 Agreement must be facilitative, and action must be incentivized.”

The partners in the project include the Ateneo School of Government (The Philippines), E3G (UK), Ecofys (Germany), Energeia, the Institute for European Studies (Belgium), the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and China’s Tsinghua University. Funding came from the European Commission, the New York-based Prospect Hill Foundation and the ClimateWorks Foundation, the San Francisco-based body backed by the Hewlett, Packard and McKnight foundations.

Also in the pipeline at the WRI is the launch of the Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) later this month. In collaboration with the Access Initiative, it will launch the index on May 20. The index aims to offer insights into the state of environmental democracy around the world and opportunities to use the tool to support reform. It’s hoped the EDI will help address problems like air and water pollution, extractive industry impacts and biodiversity loss by establishing a “centralized hub of legal analysis on procedural rights”.