Climate jaw-stice now! Photo: © Chase D'animulls /

Climate justice for the oceans in “landmark” legal statement

Recently, The Guardian and many other media reported that the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Itlos) has stated that states have a legal responsibility to control greenhouse gases which are to be viewed as pollutants. The damage caused by greenhouse gases includes climate change as well as ocean acidification. The latter is caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide by the oceans.

The position of the international court is based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). The position also states that high-income countries should cut their emissions faster than less wealthy nations.

Even if the opinion is not legally binding, The Guardian pointed out that this is “a landmark moment for climate justice”.

Eselealofa Apinelu, the former attorney general of Tuvalu and now High Commissioner to Fiji said to The Guardian “It is an important first step in holding the major polluters accountable for the sake of all humankind”.

The opinion had been asked for by the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (Cosis). The group consists of Caribbean and Pacific island nations and is led by Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu. These island states are highly vulnerable to climate change.


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