Reed Smith Client Alerts

The 21st Conference of the Parties (“COP”) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”) meets in Paris at the end of this year1 to seek to achieve the vaulted ambition set by the Durban Platform2 of “developing a protocol or other legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties”3 on climate change within the specified deadline of 2015. In terms of the world’s response to the challenges posed by climate change and the likelihood of any potential success of that response, a great deal will turn on the positions negotiated and reached (or not) over the course of the two weeks in Paris. The EU Council’s conclusions on the preparations for COP21 describe this meeting as of “critical importance” and “a historic milestone for enhancing global collective action”.4

Ever since the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 collapsed under the weight of inflated hype and expectation, everyone involved in the process launched by the Durban Platform has sought to limit, temper and manage expectations for the new agreement. This approach has been so successful that today, on the eve of one of the most significant international global treaty negotiations, the question being asked is just what meaningful impact can follow from the little that may be achieved in Paris?

In this client paper, we therefore explore what may follow when little is expected.

  1. Between 30 November and 11 December 2015
  2. Decision 1/CP.17 “Establishment of an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action”
  3. Article 2 Decision 1/CP.17
  4. 11926/15 Council conclusions on the preparation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21), at Para 12


Download the .PDF below to read the full briefing.