The International Bar Association has heeded a call from former Ireland president Mary Robinson (pictured) to join the fight against climate change.

At its conference in Dublin, the organisation confirmed it will set up a taskforce to help fulfil the agreement reached at the UN climate conference in Durban last year to develop by 2015 a legal framework for action by all countries.

Robinson made the plea in a memorial lecture for George Seward, the US lawyer and IBA founding father who died aged 101 earlier this year. ‘Climate change is an issue of justice and human rights,’ said Robinson, also former UN high commissioner for human rights. ‘This creates a concomitant moral imperative for the legal profession to act, by motivating political leaders to act. My challenge is for the IBA to develop a working group on climate justice, or on human rights and climate change, to help shape a new climate justice narrative.’

Robinson founded and leads the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, which supports poor and marginalised people affected by climate change across the world.

‘I fear that our grandchildren will say to us in 10 years’ time, "how could you be so ignorant and stupid that you did nothing",’ she added. ‘The IBA is a very powerful voice and I challenge you to be with us on this journey.’ Robinson added that too often, progress is stymied because climate conferences are treated by politicians like trade negotiations.

Responding, Michael Reynolds, the incoming IBA president, told Robinson: ‘I am prepared to say we will rise to your challenge; and with our human rights institute and committees, were are uniquely equipped to do so.’