Historic lawsuit filed regarding climate-change obligations of developed countries

The proceeding before ITLOS is the first inter-State case addressing the international legal obligations of States with regard to climate change. – File photo

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The co-chairs of the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS), Monday submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the obligation of States under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne and his Tuvalu counterpart, Kausea Natano filed the request as part of the efforts to protect and preserve the marine environment in relation to climate change impacts, including ocean warming, sea level rise, and ocean acidification.

“This is a historic step for Small Island States, to invoke international law in the effort to ensure that the major polluters take their obligations seriously, to prevent harm to vulnerable states or to compensate them for damage. Our peoples are already feeling the catastrophic consequences of climate change. We cannot continue business as usual,” said Prime Minister Browne.

Prime Minister Natano remarked that“If humankind does not act with urgency, some of  the island nations will disappear under the sea within a generation.

“Protection of the marine environment is a matter of survival. Greenhouse gas emissions should not be treated less seriously than other forms of pollution. If anything, they require even greater urgency and a commitment to respect existing principles of international law,” he added.

The Gleaner, 12 December 2022. Full article.

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