UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution urging the global body’s highest court to spell out legal obligations relating to climate change on Wednesday.
The resolution, which has been pushed for years by youngsters from Vanuatu and the Pacific islands, requests the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to outline governments’ responsibilities for preserving the planet’s climate as well as the legal ramifications of failing to do so.
Together, you are creating history, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that even if it were not legally binding, the International Court of Justice’s judgment “would assist the General Assembly, the UN, and member states to take the bolder and stronger climate action that our world so desperately needs.”
The resolution, which was ultimately co-sponsored by more than 130 member states, had been generally anticipated to pass.
The resolution requests clarification from the ICJ about “states’ obligations under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system.”
Ishmael Kalsakau, the prime minister of Vanuatu, told the assembly that its acceptance sends “a loud and unambiguous message not only around the world but long into the future.”
Global average temperatures might rise by 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030–2035, according to a warning issued by the UN’s panel of climate scientists (IPCC) a week ago, underscoring the need of taking immediate action in this decade.
Supporters of the new climate resolution expect that other instruments may provide some avenues for enforcement even if there is no legal duty for countries to reach carbon reduction targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement.