Law students deconstructing climate change

A group of students from Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law have set themselves the task of getting to the bottom of an agreement that could set a timetable for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Their initiative ‘Deconstructing Paris 2015’ is about just that—deconstructing the draft negotiating text for COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris this December. The aim of this conference is to reach agreement between 195 countries on how to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020.

Tom Stuart, one of the students leading the initiative, says their central focus will be on analysing the draft text, as it is this which will form the backbone for any climate agreement that comes out of Paris. 

“We want to dissect and explain the draft text to make it more accessible to the public and to outline the likely direction of the agreement. We also plan to highlight where non-committal language is being used that might enable states to avoid taking meaningful action on climate change.”

The students have launched a website to document their analysis and commentary and to provide legal resources about the Paris climate talks to the public, media, policy makers and politicians—both in New Zealand and abroad.

Steering Group member Catherine Iorns Magallanes, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, says more than 40 students have put their hands up to be involved, and alongside writing substantive commentaries on the text, have designed and developed the website and are managing social media, PR and events for the initiative.

“I am amazed at their great ideas and enthusiasm. Since the website went live, offers of assistance are already coming in from outside the Law School and even outside of Wellington.”

The Deconstructing Paris initiative was officially launched on 1 May after a meeting at the Law School with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s climate change officials, including Jo Tyndall, New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassador.

You can find out more about Deconstructing Paris on their website, Twitter  and on Facebook.