UN Nations adopts landmark resolution on climate justice

This week, the UN General Assembly took a major step towards global climate action as members accepted a resolution calling for the world body’s top court to outline nations’ legal obligations related to combatting global warming.

The resolution should make it easier to hold polluting countries legally accountable for failing to tackle the climate emergency, in a vote which was met by cheers and hailed as a victory for climate justice.

flags on green grass field near brown concrete building during daytime

Pushed for years by Vanuatu – a small archipelago whose future is threatened by rising sea levels – and a Pacific islander youth, the resolution asks the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to lay out nations’ obligations for protecting the Earth’s climate and the legal consequences if they fail to do so.

‘Together, you are making history,’ United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said, emphasising that even if non-binding, an ICJ opinion ‘would assist the General Assembly, the UN and member states to take the bolder and stronger climate action that our world so desperately needs.’

Sponsored by more than 130 countries, including the UK, but not America, the resolution was widely accepted to be approved.

The news also comes within the same week that Joe Biden, President of the United States, opened an auction to drill 73m acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas and approved a multi-decade long oil and gas drilling project in Alaska.

‘We are just ecstatic that the world has listened to the Pacific youth,’ said Cynthia Houiuhi, President of Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change. ‘Through no fault of our own, we are living with devastating tropical cyclones, flooding, biodiversity loss and sea level rise. We have contributed the least to the global emissions that are drowning our land.

‘As young people, the world’s failure to stop planet-killing emissions is not a theoretical problem. It is our present and it is our future that is being sold.’

Image: Mathias Reding


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