Vanuatu's climate action emboldens activists

A Samoan climate activist has praised the Vanuatu Government for campaigning for the International Court of Justice to issue a legal opinion on climate change and its causes. 

In response to forecast levels of rising climate change and sea levels, Vanuatu has argued that current action and support for vulnerable developing countries via multilateral bodies are not rising to the threat. 

Vanuatu has long championed the issue of paying compensation to countries facing the impacts of climate change from the world’s fossil fuel companies and the countries that continue to support them.

Vanuatu’s campaign commenced at Pacific Island leaders’ meetings in recent years.

The push for an official legal opinion from the international court comes before next month’s 26th United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Vanuatu says it intends to use the forum to gather support from other Pacific Island states and other vulnerable nations around the world to support the initiative. 

Bringing the issues before the World Court is intended to clarify who should be held responsible for the rising emissions driving dangerous climate change. 

Professor Tolu Muliaina, a climate activist for the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (P.I.S.F.C.C) told the Samoa Observer that Vanuatu’s campaign has been the cause of optimism and hope. 

Earlier this year, the organisation launched a petition calling on leaders of Pacific Island nations, including Australia and New Zealand, to commence the process of bringing the issue of climate change and human rights before the International Court of Justice. 

“Leading by example, the Vanuatu government has been supportive of [the initiative] from the start [for] which we are extremely grateful,” he said.

“[They are] standing by young people in their fight for greater accountability and visionary leadership from the international community.”

Professor Muliaina said that hope remains that other leaders of the wider Blue Pacific will lend their support to the campaign. 

“With Samoa having [its] first female Prime Minister - who is not new to regional and global negotiations - time will tell [to what extent] Samoa will be a force in our collective fight,” he said. 

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