xi's moments
Home | Americas

UN adopts resolution on climate obligations

By MINLU ZHANG at the United Nations | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-30 09:50

The tiny Pacific island nation Vanuatu on Wednesday led a "core group" of 18 countries in successfully persuading the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a resolution asking the world's top court to define the obligations of countries in the fight against climate change.

The General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an advisory opinion on the legal responsibilities of countries in combat of the climate crisis.

"If and when given, such an 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," UN Secretary General António Guterres told the General Assembly on Wednesday before the adoption.

The ICJ's opinion would not be binding but has legal authority and can influence future negotiations, which could make it easier to hold countries legally responsible for not addressing climate issues.

The resolution, put forward by Vanuatu and co-sponsored by more than 120 countries, passed by consensus, which means that none of the 193 member states needed a vote.

It could take about 18 months for the ICJ to issue an advisory opinion, with countries submitting input over the next year. The advisory opinion could clarify financial obligations countries have on climate change, improving national climate plans that were presented in the Paris Agreement, and reinforcing local policies and legislation, Reuters reported.

The advisory opinion could be a crucial input for numerous climate-related legal cases that are currently pending worldwide, which are estimated to be more than 2,000, according to Reuters.

Such opinion "will have a powerful and positive impact on how we address climate change and protect present and future generations", Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau said Wednesday.

The effort started four years ago when a group of law students from Pacific Island nations suggested the ICJ an advisory opinion to advance climate justice.

Vanuatu, an island about 500 miles west of Fiji with about 300,000 habitants, is among the several small island countries that are severely impacted by the climate crisis, which is causing disruptions in their water and food supplies and leading to involuntary migration.

In early March, Vanuatu was hit by two category 4 hurricanes within 72 hours, causing widespread damage and flooding.

The resolution came at the same time when the Biden administration was auctioning off more than 73 million acres of water in the Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas drilling.

The oil and gas drilling from this sale could emit about 21.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to an environmental analysis by the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The Biden administration recently just approved a massive, decades-long Willow oil drilling project in Alaska. The area where the project is planned holds up to 600 million barrels of oil, which will lead to the release of 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually, equivalent to the emissions of 2 million gasoline-fueled cars on the road. The project is one of the largest "carbon bombs" on US soil, according to The Guardian.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349