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Climate Change May Finally Get Its Day at The Hague

Climate Change May Finally Get Its Day at The Hague

The small island nation of Vanuatu will spearhead an effort to get an advisory opinion ruling from the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

The country of Vanuatu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, will seek a ruling from the International Court of Justice to push forward action on climate change.

“In response to the catastrophic levels of climate change loss and damage faced by this small Pacific nation, Vanuatu recognises that current levels of action and support for vulnerable developing countries within multilateral mechanisms are insufficient,” Vanuatu’s government said in a statement Saturday, as reported by Reuters.

The nation, which has a population under 300,000 spread across more than 80 islands, also said it would look to “drastically expand its diplomacy and advocacy” with other small island nations ahead of the major international climate meeting in Glasgow this fall known as COP26.

There’s no question that extreme weather and climate change have gravely impacted Vanuatu. In April 2020, Tropical Cyclone Harold slammed into four Pacific islands, hitting Vanuatu when the storm was at its strongest. The island nation was pummeled with winds up to 145 mph (233 kph), the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. The storm hit in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when tourism was largely shut down in the region. Just five years earlier, Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu and damaged 90% of the buildings in the nation’s capital of Port Vila; the country’s economy had just managed to recover when the pandemic closed borders and Harold wreaked further damage.

“For us and other small island developing states especially, our biggest threats are global—most notably climate change, the management of our oceans and of course the Covid-19 pandemic,” Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman said in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday.