At an official COP27 side event held today in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, international experts emphasised the need for new legal avenues to resolve climate-related disputes without litigation. Sharing experiences from three continents, the speakers underlined that out-of-court dispute resolution methods such as climate arbitration and mediation are on the rise. The side event was hosted by the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM) in cooperation with Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI) and the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA).
In recent years, the European Union and nations all around the world have introduced new climate legislation. This is a major step forward and provides a framework for governments and companies to implement mitigation and adaptation measures, but the growing importance of climate laws also provides ample grounds for conflicts and legal disputes.
Reflecting on the discussions at the side event, IKEM Director Prof. Dr. Michael Rodi remarked: ‘To meet our climate goals, it’s crucial for companies and supply chains to become climate neutral. But in a legal context, terms like “climate neutrality” and “climate positivity”, which are used in the certification process, might not be sufficiently defined, or their definitions may vary in different countries. In the years ahead, we can expect these ambiguities to lead to accusations of greenwashing and legal disputes between transnational actors.’
The global community will need time to agree on precise definitions and legal principles. Until then, there will be a major need for conflict resolution. Dr. Greta Reeh, head of IKEM’s Research Academy, said: ‘Given the urgency of the climate crisis and disputes related to it, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms can be a valid option to avoid costly and often time-consuming litigation, especially in instances that involve numerous conflicting interests. We are convinced that mechanisms such as arbitration and mediation are particularly well suited to address complex multi-party disputes related to climate change.’
Currently, climate arbitration and mediation often lack procedural foundations and guidelines. At the side event, IKEM introduced the concept of an international court of arbitration dedicated to the resolution of climate-related disputes.
‘A climate arbitration court could provide a reliable framework for addressing disputes quickly and efficiently,’ explained IKEM Managing Director Dr. Simon Schäfer-Stradowsky. ‘In addition, the participation of climate experts in the dispute resolution process would guarantee that court rulings are informed by the best available scientific research on climate change. That’s why we believe that the arena of international climate-related disputes would benefit greatly from such an institution.’
The side event featured the following speakers:
- Prof. Dr. Michael Rodi (IKEM)
- Dr. Greta Reeh (IKEM)
- Maria João C. P. Rolim (Rolim, Viotti, Goulart, Cardoso Advogados)
- Christine Peringer (MBBI)
- Joseph A. Siegel (MBBI)
- Miriah Russo Kelly (IECA)
- Gregg Walker (IECA)