Fiji’s Attorney-General Siromi Turaga, fourth from the left, with regional officials at the Writeshop for Pacific islands’ submissions to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion on climate change.
Pacific governments warn if the global community does not stand together to curb the threat of greenhouse gas emissions, small island states will bear the brunt of extreme weather events.
The warning came as regional attorney-generals and legal officers gathered in Fiji this week to draft a Pacific paper to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) committee on climate change.
Fiji’s Attorney-General Siromi Turaga urged his counterparts not to shy away from demanding climate justice for all.
“Where the Pacific goes in addressing climate change, or lack thereof, is where the rest of the world will follow.
“I do not need to reiterate just how critical this case is for our region. Without successful, urgent international climate co-operation, we are at the frontlines of some of the worst outcomes possible from the climate crisis,” Turaga told the writeshop in Nadi.
Auckland Council will plant trees in south Auckland parks and streets to increase shelter in poorly shaded areas. (video from May 2022)
In March, the United Nations announced it was backing a landmark resolution – the move was hailed as a “turning point in climate justice” and a victory for the Vanuatu government and Pacific youth who spearheaded the campaign.
The UN General Assembly had asked the ICJ to provide an advisory opinion on a country’s climate obligations.
Amnesty International said this would provide clarity on how existing international law, especially human rights and environmental legislation, could be applied to strengthen action on climate change.
“This will help mitigate the causes and consequences of the damage done to the climate and ultimately protect people and the environment globally,” Marta Schaaf, Amnesty’s director of Climate, Economic and Social Justice, and Corporate Accountability Programme, said.
Vanuatu’s Attorney-General Arnold Loughman said it was important the views and opinions of each government at the “Fiji writeshop” were heard by the ICJ.
“We recognise that climate change is one of the existential threats facing us today – that is why it is very important that we come together. We cannot do this individually. We must come together as a group and address this.
“In phase one, we got 132 votes at the UN and I think we can do the same in phase two as we prepare the submissions to the ICJ. We want justice.”
Miles Young, director of Human Rights and Social Development at the Pacific Community (SPC) said the fate of the region rested on climate justice outcomes.
“The Pacific has long been at the forefront of climate action, and the SPC has – perhaps not as well known – a long history of addressing climate change through the lens of human rights.
“Through this ICJ initiative, Vanuatu and the Pacific will not just seek to spur transformative climate action and protect the environment in line with the climate change ambitions under the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific, but also reinforce the region as a global leader in the human rights and climate change nexus.”
Pacific governments also launched the Climate Security Assessment Guide – an essential component of the implementation of the Boe Declaration Action Plan, deputy forum secretary-general Dr Filimon Manoni said.
He said the guide provided Pacific countries with “invaluable tools to analyse regional climate security trends and develop appropriate responses to mitigate climate-induced security risks at national level”.
Officials from the Cook Islands, Tahiti and New Caledonia, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu attended the Suva summit.