World Oceans Court rules in favour of small island states in historic climate change case

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) delivered a historic advisory opinion over the climate change case in favour of the nine small island states

World Oceans Court rules in favour of small island states in historic climate change case
World Oceans Court rules in favour of small island states in historic climate change case

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) delivered a historic advisory opinion over the climate change case in favour of the nine small island states. The tribunal ruled that there is a need for more effort and work from signatories to a United Nations treaty on marine activities in the protection of the world’s oceans from climate change.

Nine small island states that have won the climate change case were represented by the Commission of Small Island States of Climate Change and International Law (COSIS). The commission lauded the tribunal and termed the win as a “tremendous legal victory.”

As per COSIS, the history was created by the court as they delivered the first advisory opinion on climate change and oceans. The small island states included those which have faced the wrath of two Category 4 storms within 24 hours last year such as Antigua and Barbuda, Niue, Palau, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The tribunal outlined that the responsibility of the UN Convention has been further extended to greenhouse gas emissions which are causing marine pollution and providing harm to the oceans by altering the earth’s atmosphere.

In addition to that, clarification has also been asked by the small states over marine pollution under the convention as the problem is caused by issues such as rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda- Gaston Browne added that the emissions of big polluters have made the survival of the small island nations tough as they are fighting for it. He noted that there are chances that some will become uninhabitable in the near future due to the emission of the greenhouse gas.

He further demanded there is a need for a full stop to the catastrophic harm provided by major polluters to the small nations before it gets late and they need to respect international law.

The world oceans court also stated that there is a high risk of serious and irreversible harm to the marine environment. The emission of the fossil fuels have been severely impacting the survival of the small island states, added by the tribunal

Notably, the small island states have been facing more gradual changes due to the climate changes besides the more severe and frequent storms. The problems such as the loss of vegetable gardens when salty seawater mixes with groundwater are also the topic of major concern.

Several experts noted that the opinion of the tribunal stated that all states were legally bound to do more against climate change and protect the marine environment. The step is considered significant in holding the major polluters accountable.

Notably, the 2024 Hurricane Season has been approaching and the small island states have been preparing to mitigate the impact of climate change. Recently, the Bahamas– one of the countries of the Caribbean region has been impacted by the weather advisories such as heat waves and thunderstorm warnings.

In addition to that, a total of 22 hurricanes and tropical storms have been named and it was predicted that the 2024 hurricane season will remain ‘hyperactive’, wreaking havoc among the citizens.

The countries have been raising their voice against the carbon footprints and the opinion of the world oceans court has also marked the result of their efforts.