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Arthur Watts Public International Law Seminar Series sponsored by Volterra Fietta: The Legal Impact of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

27th January 2016

Time: 17:30-19:00 (registration from 16.45)

Followed by a drinks reception from 19:00-20:00

Venue: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5JP

Arthur Watts Public International Law Seminar Series sponsored by Volterra Fietta

"The Legal Impact of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change"

This seminar will examine the legal impacts of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted in December 2015. Does it embody real agreement on meaningful obligations or is it diplomatic wallpaper to cover the cracks? How binding is it and is it enforceable? What is its potential for increasing the role of international arbitration and domestic litigation in climate-related disputes?

The panel of experts, who played key roles in the Paris negotiations, will explain how the agreement finally came together, and analyse its legal effects, strengths and weaknesses. They will speak from a variety of perspectives - the EU, the UK and Small Island States, and discuss the work that remains to be done by governments to make this agreement fully effective, and what it means for the private sector and the public.


  • Kate Cook, Matrix Chambers
  • Caroline Ross, Department of Energy & Climate Change
  • Jacob Werksman, European Commission
  • Farhana Yamin, Adviser, Marshall Islands and Founder & CEO, Track 0


  • Lord Carnwath, Justice of the Supreme Court

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Join in the conversation @BIICL #ParisAgreement

Speaker bios

The Right Hon Lord Carnwath of Notting Hill, CVO, Justice of The Supreme Court

After studying law at Trinity College, Cambridge, Lord Carnwath was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) in 1968 and took silk in 1985. He served as Attorney General to the Prince of Wales from 1988 to 1994.

He was a judge of the Chancery Division from 1994 to 2002, during which time (1998 to 2002) he was also Chairman of the Law Commission. Lord Carnwath was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2002.

Between 2007 and 2012 he was Senior President of Tribunals and led the planning and implementation of the reforms of the tribunal system following the Leggatt report.

Kate Cook, Matrix Chambers

Kate is a barrister at Matrix Chambers. She specialises in all aspects of environmental law and in public international law, having previously worked as a legal advisor in the UK Department of the Environment International Section. She has appeared before the ICJ in cases including ICJ Australia v Japan ("Antarctic Whaling") and Argentina v Uruguay ("Pulp Mills"). In 2009 Kate was involved in setting up the Legal Response Initiative (LRI) with a number of law firms and NGOs. The LRI provides pro bono support to Least Developed Countries at the UN Climate Change negotiations. Kate is currently Chair of the LRI.

Caroline Ross, Department of Energy & Climate Change

Caroline Ross was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1999. She joined the Government Legal Service from private practice in 2001 and has been a legal adviser at the Department of Energy and Climate Change since the department was formed in 2008. Caroline has advised on international climate change issues, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, since 2012 and has been a member of the UK delegation to the UNFCCC negotiations since COP18.

Jacob Werksman, European Commission

Jacob Werksman joined the European Commission in April 2012 as Principal Adviser to Directorate General for Climate Action, where his work focuses on the international dimensions of European climate policy. His responsibilities include leading aspects of the European Union negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and advising the Commission with regard to international partnerships to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including through the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Werksman is an international lawyer, specializing in international environmental law and international economic law. He has provided legal and policy advice to developed and developing country governments, NGOs and international institutions in the context of the UN climate change negotiations. He has taught and published widely on the international legal dimensions of climate policy, including on the design of compliance mechanisms, climate finance and on the relationship between carbon markets and international trade and investment agreements.

Prior to joining the Commission, he held posts at the World Resources Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, and the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) in London. He has lectured in international environmental and economic law at the masters level at the New York University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies and University College at the University of London. Werksman holds degrees from Columbia University (A.B.), the University of Michigan (J.D.) and the University of London (LL M.).

Farhana Yamin, Adviser, Marshall Islands and Founder & CEO, Track 0

An internationally recognized environmental lawyer, climate change and development policy expert, she has advised leaders and countries for 20 years. In addition to founding Track 0 she is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, a visiting Professor at University College London and a member of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change at the World Economic Forum. She has published numerous books and articles on the nexus of climate change and development and served as an advisor to the European Commission on Emissions Trading Directive from 1998-2002, later serving as Special Advisor to Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action for 2012-2013. From 2010-2012 she oversaw the Children's Investment Fund Foundation multimillion dollar investments and continues today to provide research and strategy development for a number of foundations. Between 1996 and 2002, she was Lead Author for three assessment reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on adaptation and mitigation issues. She continues to provide legal, strategy and policy advice to NGOs, foundations and developing nations on international climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC.

Event Papers

Sponsored by

Event convened by Jill Barrett, Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow in Public International Law, British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL).

CPD points

This event is accredited with 1.5 CPD points.

Pricing and Registration

BIICL Members:

  • Individual - £40
  • Full-time Academic - £25
  • Full-time Student - £15


  • Individual - £70
  • Full-time Academic - £45
  • Full-time Student - £25

N.B. The Academic rate also applies to staff of government and non-profit organisations.

Free NGO Places

A limited number of places for this event are available for staff of NGOs to attend free of charge as part of an initiative by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law to provide NGOs with access to legal education and training events.

Please email our Events Team at with your contact details, your position and the NGO that you work for. We will organise your attendance, subject to availability.

If you have any queries, please contact the Events team

Photography and audio recording

Please note that our events may be photographed or audio recorded. These materials will be used for internal and external promotional purposes only by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. If you object to appearing in the photographs, please let our photographer know on the day. Alternatively you can email BIICL Marketing Manager, Claudia Mansaray, in advance of the event that you are attending.

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