Six Tiny Island Countries To Sue Big Oil For Disrupting the Climate

| Resist!

Port Vila, Vanuatu — On Monday, June 8, 2015, members of the G7, the world’s seven largest countries, met in Germany where an historic promise was made by world leaders — a pledge to rid the earth of carbon burning by the year 2100. On the same day, six tiny island nations also met with a climate agenda — in Southeast Asia — and they had a promise to make as well, as they released the People’s Declaration for Climate Justice.Climate change in pacific

If the G7 is Goliath, then the six countries offering up the declaration are definitely David. Those participating nations are: Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and the Philippines — and they are planning to sue large transnational carbon polluters. The international coalition of six states in its document:

We, the people of Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and the Philippines continue to experience the impacts of climate change – the single biggest human rights, environmental and humanitarian crisis of our time… As the people most acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, we will not let the big polluters decide and assign our fate… We commit to holding those most responsible for climate change accountable. By doing so, we send a message of hope that the people and not the polluters are in charge of humanity’s destiny.

In conjunction with the declaration, Greenpeace Southeast Asia is also preparing to petition the Philippines Commission on Human Rights to launch an investigation into “big polluters” in regards to their role in human rights violations associated with climate change, Climate Progress reports.

Activists, environmentalists and climate scientists alike ridiculed the G7’s target date of 2100, saying that the proposed course of action is far too slow to prevent irreparable harm to the climate, the oceans, and the world’s ecosystems.

There can be little dispute that these six countries, and other island nations like Marshall and Burma have been hit first, and hit hardest by the effects of global climate destabilization.

Climate change Pacific Islander message to the world

A near doubling in the frequency of extreme weather events, coupled with fast moving coastline disappearance due to sea level rise, is already wreaking havoc and causing distress in the islands. Additionally, ocean acidification from large-scale Co2 absorption by the oceans is killing reefs and decimating fish and shellfish populations alike — seafood populations that provide an absolutely vital source of protein for islanders worldwide.

Taking all things into account, holding transnational fossil fuel companies’ feet to the fire won’t be easy, and the coalition of nations will likely have to face several issues with standing before even getting a day in court. “If you are citizens in Fiji and you want to sue Chevron, you’re going to have jurisdictional questions,” David Hunter, Director of the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law at American University’s Washington College of Law, told ThinkProgress.

The People’s Declaration for Climate Justice adds to several other climate-oriented legal cases already bubbling in different locations around the globe. Now we wait and see if the Southeast Asian decree will result in culpability for any of the world’s largest fossil fuel giants.

The declaration in its entirety can be seen just below:

People’s Declaration for Climate Justice Port Vila, Vanuatu Date: 8 June 2015

We, the people of Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and the Philippines continue to experience the impacts of climate change – the single biggest human rights, environmental and humanitarian crisis of our time. It has claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions of people, damaged livelihoods, and caused a severe economic toll in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

The burning of fossil fuels by big polluters has been found to be primarily responsible for emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases. The concentration of said gases, especially carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes climate change. An estimated 25-30% of the carbon dioxide emitted by these activities was absorbed by the oceans, causing ocean acidification.

As the people most acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, we will not let the big polluters decide and assign our fate. Our rights and ability to survive must not be dictated by the continued addiction to the burning of fossil fuels. We refuse to accept the “new normal” and demand for climate justice by holding the big polluters and their respective governments to account for their contribution to the climate crisis. Our people and our environment must be preserved for the generations to come.

We are from island states in shared oceans. We stand in solidarity. We commit to holding those most responsible for climate change accountable. By doing so, we send a message of hope that the people and not the polluters are in charge of humanity’s destiny. We commit to bring a case that would investigate the human rights implications of climate change and hold the big carbon polluters accountable to appropriate international bodies or processes.

  • Southern

    Some of the nicest people I’ve met are pacific islanders while the greediest characters known to mankind are all fictional characters.

    The main trouble pacific islands are rising sea levels – While I’m all for renewable energies – In the short term – Modern technologies can at least temporarily build a wall against rising sea levels.

    f.e. – Just like the Chinese government has been reclaiming land from the South Chine Sea – A technology involving the dumping of massive concrete blocks followed by dumping of sand in shallow waters in order to Prevent -reclaim – create land from the ocean can be applied almost anywhere you like.

    Sometimes this method is hugely controversial like in the case of Okinawa and the expansion of the US base, as it harms local culture and marine life [ permission denied?]

    Considering that the technology and the means is out there, for the moment at least rising sea levels can be countered.

    For the long term, this little blue planet absolutely needs renewable energies not least be rid of FTA and ISDS clauses used to challenge government funded renewable energy projects.

    Rising sea levels can guarded against – better still stop man made climate change – Ultimately how can ISDS clauses be annulled?

  • Voodude

    “The main trouble for pacific islands are rising sea levels”
    … one would think …
    …but there is evidence that slowly rising sea levels aren’t a problem. First off, many of those islands have been around for thousands of years, some have been populated for 3,000 years (and there is evidence that might show 8,000 years that people have been there) … and seas have been rising the whole time.
    Second off, for those islands surrounded by coral: If the coral is alive, the coral can grow three or four times the rate of sea-level rise. Oddly, A parrotfish, which eats coral, is a very important source of “sand” (parrotfish poop) that actually builds the islands.
    Reply, and ask for the science articles …

  • Quma

    Might I invite you to ask the people of Tokelau if they would kindly grant you permission to live there, until they are completely submerged by the ocean anyway. Seeing as they live on small stretches of sandy beaches, where you have ocean on both sides, I would like to see how comfortable you are in the middle of a hurricane when you are standing in the storm surge, trying not to get swept away by the sea. I am from a more mountainous Pacific Island country, and am in my 30’s, but even I have seen the sea rising. The place where my uncles house used to be, is now permanently under the sea. The three rows of houses that were behind his – are also, permanently under the sea. At least we can move up the hill. I truly feel for those who have no hills to move up.