Vanuatu is considering suing fossil fuel companies and industrialized countries that use them for their role in creating catastrophic climate change, Vanuatuan Minister of Foreign Affairs Ralph Regenvanu said yesterday.
Speaking at the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s Virtual Summit, Regenvanu said the effects of climate change are felt first and hardest by those who are least responsible for it.
“Vanuatu is on the front lines of climate change and yet we have benefited least from the exploitation of fossil fuels that has caused it,” Regenvanu said.
“My government is now exploring all avenues to utilize the judicial system in various jurisdictions — including under international law — to shift the costs of climate protection back on to fossil fuel companies, the financial institutions and the governments that actively and knowingly created this existential threat to my country,” he said in a video of the summit posted online.
Vanuatu, with an estimated population of 280,000 spread across about 80 islands, is among the more than a dozen Pacific island nations that already face rising sea levels and more regular storms that could wipe out much of their economies.
Samoa, on behalf of the 18 Pacific island forum members, including Vanuatu, on Saturday last week called on APEC leaders to pay more attention to climate change.
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi later told reporters that he wanted to see more done by Australia and the US.
“Vanuatu’s brave announcement today is part of a global wave of legal action against oil, gas and coal companies, and laggard governments,” Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan said in a statement.
“Communities impacted by climate change are standing up and demanding that those responsible finally be held to account,” she added.
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