IKEM’s annual conference, held on 11 October, focused on the global dimensions of climate law and policy. The event was titled ‘The Road to COP27: Advancing Global Climate Action’. Conference speakers included Dr Kathleen Pauleweit, LLM, and Dr Michael Kalis, who are senior researchers at IKEM. We spoke with Pauleweit and Kalis about their research and their expectations for the COP27 climate talks, which are scheduled to take place next month in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Tell us about your presentations! What topic did you focus on?
Dr Michael Kalis: My presentation was about climate change litigation, specifically about the topic of systemic climate change litigation. I discussed the importance of the courts, which play an essential role in securing a national-level obligation to mitigate climate change in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Courts also verify compliance with balancing rules and check to ensure that the reduction paths mapped out by the states are plausible.
Dr Kathleen Pauleweit: My presentation dealt with civil society participation at COP27, including the participation of climate and environmental activists, human rights activists and independent research institutions like IKEM. One of the concerns I expressed was that civil society actors at COP in Egypt could be hindered in their calls for more climate action and a greater focus on social justice.
Why are these issues so important in the context of climate change?
Dr Michael Kalis: Climate lawsuits are an expression of the failure of state climate measures, which makes them important legal tools for mitigating global climate change. The pressure to act is increasing, as is the volume of climate-related legislation. I’m convinced that we will see more and more litigation in this area in the coming years and decades.
Dr Kathleen Pauleweit: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the space for civil society engagement in world affairs had been narrowing. Repressive and authoritarian states – some of which make billions in profits from the sale of oil, gas and coal – are trying to put the brakes on climate action. We need more, not less, civil society engagement and sufficient public pressure on international climate diplomacy; otherwise, we won’t be able to avert the climate catastrophe.
What are your expectations for the climate negotiations in Egypt?
Dr Michael Kalis: One of the explicit aims of COP27 is the implementing the Paris Agreement, so among other things, I expect decisions on the global financing of climate change mitigation. And in light of the war in Ukraine, the global community will have to decide how to deal with the issue of energy security in the context of the energy transition.
Dr Kathleen Pauleweit: In addition to the finalisation of the Paris Rulebook, I expect significantly more efforts to achieve the 1.5-degree target – especially from the G20 countries, and particularly on the issue of loss and damage. I hope that the Egyptian Presidency will conduct the negotiations in an inclusive, participatory and transparent manner. And I hope that the COP Presidency will spur the country to finally do more to mitigate climate change.