Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Global Climate: ‘Landmark moment’ as UN backs call for ICJ to take action on climate change

© Photo by Dave Hunt - Pool/Getty Images

Move by Pacific Island state of Vanuatu gains wide support

In response to the UN General Assembly today calling on the International Court of Justice to provide an authoritative opinion on countries’ obligations and responsibilities for climate change, Marta Schaaf, Amnesty International’s Climate, Economic and Social Justice and Corporate Accountability Director, said:

“This is a landmark moment in the fight for climate justice. It is likely to provide clarity on how international law - especially human rights and environmental legislation - can be applied to strengthen action on climate change. 

“This is a remarkable achievement by Vanuatu and other Pacific Island states. Like other countries in the region, Vanuatu has been hit by a series of powerful cyclones and faces an existential threat from rising sea levels and intensifying storms, caused primarily by industrialised countries’ use of fossil fuel.

“We see some fossil fuel-producing countries resisting calls to phase them out, and falsely promoting carbon capture and storage as a technological fix. An advisory opinion from the court can help put a brake on this accelerating disaster.”

Pacific Island countries lead call

The resolution by Vanuatu and other Pacific Island countries was adopted by consensus. It is endorsed by more than 130 countries, backed by a broad civil society coalition and has widespread popular support. Earlier this month, a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear that global warming this century is currently set to exceed an agreed 1.5C degree limit without drastic and immediate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

View latest press releases