top of page

ITLOS Advisory Opinion Strengthens Legal Framework for Marine Climate Action: PICANs initial response



For Immediate Release


22 May 2024 (Suva, Fiji) — The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has issued a groundbreaking advisory opinion that enhances the legal basis for addressing climate change impacts on the marine environment. This historic ruling clarifies that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), States are obligated to prevent, reduce, and control marine pollution from greenhouse gas emissions and protect the marine environment from climate change.


By explicitly linking UNCLOS to the Paris Agreement, the opinion mandates that States integrate their climate commitments with marine protection efforts. It emphasises that merely adhering to the Paris Agreement is insufficient. States must do more than make pledges and promises at annual climate conferences; they have a legal obligation to take all necessary measures to prevent, reduce, and control greenhouse gas emissions affecting the marine environment and that it must align with climate science and the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.


In responding to the pronouncement of the advisory opinion by the ITLOS, Rufino Varea, Acting PICAN Regional Director said:


"In our region, Pacific Islanders have always understood the interconnectedness of the global commons of ocean and atmosphere. We’ve navigated the vast ocean by reading the sky. If our ancestors faced such a situation of GHG emissions polluting our atmosphere and ocean the way they currently do, our stories and realities would be very different today, perhaps. This analogy speaks to a wider issue that small island states face today in global gatherings like the UNFCCC COP process. It is not enough for big GHG-emitting countries to continue business as usual. They must do more to curb the transboundary pollution of GHG, and to protect and preserve our marine environment. And we are pleased that the Advisory opinion by the ITLOS makes that abundantly clear.


"Our home is primarily made up of oceans and atmosphere rather than land. Our future depends on their sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change. Every action, no matter how small, plays a significant role in shaping the realities that our present and future generations will encounter. Therefore, by emphasizing that simply adhering to the Paris Agreement is inadequate, and legally clarifying that states must take more than just making pledges and promises at annual climate conferences, it establishes a legal obligation to implement all necessary measures to prevent, reduce, and control greenhouse gas emissions that affect the marine environment. This obligation must align with climate science and the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.


"We see this as an important advancement because we have consistently emphasized the need to maintain global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. This temperature level is crucial for our communities to adapt and safeguard their homes and people. Anything beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius would pose a severe threat to our future."


ENDS


For Queries:

Dylan Kava, Strategic Engagement and Communications Lead, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network

dylan.kava@pican.org | +679 9061989 (Fiji / GMT+12)

Kommentare


bottom of page