Reacting to a UN General Assembly decision requesting that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) provide an authoritative opinion on states’ obligations and responsibilities surrounding climate change, Marta Schaaf, Amnesty International’s Director of Climate, Economic and Social Justice, and Corporate Accountability Programme said:
“This is a landmark moment in the fight for climate justice as it is likely to provide clarity on how existing international law, especially human rights and environmental legislation, can 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.”
“We salute this remarkable achievement by Vanuatu, and other Pacific Island states, which originally brought this urgent call to advance climate justice to the UN. Their resolution was adopted by consensus, endorsed by more than 130 countries, backed by a broad civil society coalition and has widespread popular support.
“Today’s victory sprang from the efforts of youth activists in Pacific Island states to secure climate justice. Like other states in the region, Vanuatu has been hit by a series of powerful cyclones, and faces an existential threat from rising sea levels and intensifying storms, caused primarily by fossil fuel use in industrialized countries, over which it has no control or responsibility.
“The ICJ can now choose to provide a robust advisory opinion to advance climate justice. We know from this month’s IPCC report that the 1.5°C global warming limit agreed to in Paris in 2015 is likely to be breached before 2035 unless urgent action is taken. We see some fossil fuel-producing states both resisting calls to phase them out, and falsely promoting carbon capture and storage as a technological fix for the climate. An advisory opinion from the court can help put a brake on this accelerating climate disaster.”