UNITED STATES: In a vote hailed as a historic win for climate justice, the UN on Wednesday approved a resolution that should make it simpler to hold polluting nations legally responsible for failing to address the climate emergency.
The resolution to obtain a legal opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to clarify states’ obligations to address the climate crisis and specify any consequences countries should face for inaction was unanimously adopted by the UN general assembly.
The resolution was spearheaded by Vanuatu, a small Pacific island nation vulnerable to extreme climate effects, and youth activists.
“As young people, we know that 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 out.”
More than 120 nations, including the UK but excluding the US, co-sponsored the resolution, which will help create a sort of legal litmus test for the global climate justice movement looking to hold nations accountable for climate failures in the courts.
It happens on the same day that the Biden administration launches an auction to drill 73 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas.
Additionally, it happens just days after the self-described “climate president” approves a massive, multi-decade oil and gas drilling project in Alaska that will result in one of the biggest “carbon bombs” on US soil.
Establishing foreign legal norms can have an impact on judges and governments even though their judgements will not be enforceable in domestic courts.
Additionally, it marks the first attempt to codify obligations for countries to take action on climate change under international law, which proponents believe will strengthen climate-related lawsuits by assisting states that are vulnerable and by holding nations accountable for their actions and inaction.
The motion was born out of growing dissatisfaction with the disparity between the rhetoric and action of the international community on climate change, as well as growing losses for nations like Vanuatu, which are threatened with extinction as a result of sea level rise.
The anger sparked a social movement that was spearheaded by young activists who had studied law in Vanuatu, and Indigenous attorneys in the Pacific led the work on the resolution.
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