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The UNFCCC requirements for access to climate information and public participation in climate change decision-making. Sandra Nóbrega Faculty of Law, Maastricht University 12 th IUCNAEL Colloquium 2014 “Energy for a Fair Society in a Safe Planet” , Tarragona, 04 July 2014.

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The unfccc requirements for access to climate information and public participation in climate change decision making

The UNFCCC requirements for access to climate information and public participation in climate change decision-making

Sandra Nóbrega

Faculty of Law, Maastricht University

12th IUCNAEL Colloquium 2014 “Energy for a Fair Society in a Safe Planet”,

Tarragona, 04 July 2014


The unfccc requirements for access to climate information and public participation in climate change decision making

“more than a third of the world's population has never heard of global warming”

Gallup Polls conducted

in 127 countries

Published in The Economist, print edition Apr 19th, 2014


Outline

Outline

1) Brief overview of the UNFCCC

2) Article 6 of the UNFCCC: what does it provide?

3) 20 years of Article 6 of the UNFCCC

4)Aarhus Convention: filling the procedural provisions gaps of the UNFCCC

5) Final remarks


1 brief overview of the unfccc

1) Brief overview of the UNFCCC

  • What is a framework convention?

    • Trend started in the 1970s

    • More general treaty followed by more specific regulations

    • Protocol vs. Work Programme


2 article 6 of the unfccc what does it provide

2) Article 6 of the UNFCCC: what does it provide?

  • Article 4.1(i) of the UNFCCC states that all parties, ‘taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and their specific national and regional development priorities, objectives and circumstances, shall ... promote and cooperate in education, training and public awareness related to climate change’.

  • Parties have to encourage the widest participation in this process (including NGOs).


The unfccc requirements for access to climate information and public participation in climate change decision making

  • Article 6 UNFCCC states that all parties have to promote and facilitate

    • (i) ‘public access to information on climate change and its effects’; and

    • (ii) ‘public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate responses’.

  • Article 6 UNFCCC: what the terms “information” and “public” encompass?

    • No definition!


3 20 years of article 6 of the unfccc

3) 20 years of Article 6 of the UNFCCC

  • Three work programmes on Article 6

    • New Delhi Work Programme

    • Amended New Delhi Work Programme

    • Doha Work Programme

    • Developments

    • Focal points

    • CC:iNet

    • The UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness


4 aarhus convention filling the procedural provisions gaps of the unfccc

4)Aarhus Convention: filling the procedural provisions gaps of the UNFCCC

4.1 Origin and evolution


4 1 origin and evolution continued

4.1 Origin and evolution (continued)

  • June 1998: Adoption of the Aarhus Convention

  • October 2001: Entry into force

  • Open to non-UNECE members (Art. 19(3))

  • 46 parties


4 2 content of the aarhus convention

4.2 Content of the Aarhus Convention

  • Objectives, definitions and general features: Arts. 1-3

  • Access to information: Arts. 4-5

  • Public participation: Arts. 6-8

  • Access to justice: Art. 9

  • Annexes


The unfccc requirements for access to climate information and public participation in climate change decision making

4.3 Transposition into EU Law

  • (i) Rules directed to EU institutions:

    • Regulation 1367/2006

  • (ii) Directives addressed to Member States to implement the Aarhus Convention into their national legislation:

    • Directive 2003/4 (Access to Information) and

    • Directive 2003/35 (Public Participation)


4 4 legal conflicts

4.4. Legal Conflicts

  • Clear coverage of climate change-related issues by the Aarhus Convention

  • What is the role of the environmental procedural rights provided by the Aarhus Convention for climate change matters?

  • Case laws show reluctance on the part of governments to respond to requests for environmental information.

  • Decisions of the ACCC regarding public participation show that the EU fell short in requiring its Member States to implement proper public participation provisions.


5 final remarks

5) Final remarks

  • UNFCCC provisions: vague and no indication of moving towards the creation of rights.

  • Aarhus convention may be used as a fallback

  • Given the need to adopt more ambitious measures in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more court cases are expected.


The unfccc requirements for access to climate information and public participation in climate change decision making

Thank you!

Sandra Nóbrega

Junior Lecturer/ Researcher

[email protected]


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