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Small island nations ask tribunal to decide to protect the ocean

“Sea levels are rising rapidly, threatening to sink our lands below the ocean,” Kausea Natano, the prime minister of Tuvalu, said in a statement.
“Extreme weather events, which grow in number and intensity with each passing year, are killing our people and destroying our infrastructure. Entire marine and coastal ecosystems are dying in waters that are becoming warmer and more acidic.” My people are suffering a "manifest injustice."

In a landmark hearing, small island nations disproportionately affected by the climate crisis will take on high-emitting countries in a court in Hamburg, Germany, on 11 September 2023 in what is being seen as the first climate justice case aimed at protecting the ocean.
During the two-day hearing, the nations – including the Bahamas, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Antigua and Barbuda among others – will ask the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Itlos) to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions absorbed by the marine environment should be considered pollution.

As one of the planet’s greatest carbon sinks, the ocean absorbs 25% of carbon dioxide emissions, captures 90% of the heat caused by those emissions and produces half the world’s oxygen.

Most countries have obligations under the legally binding UN convention on the law of the sea to take measures to prevent, reduce and control marine pollution.

If the case, brought by the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (Cosis), is successful, these obligations would include carbon-emission reduction and protection of marine environments already damaged by CO2 pollution.

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Story Information:

Country: Tuvalu

Topic: Pollution

Photo or video credit: The Guardian

Text Credit: Kausea Natano

Date : 11 September 2023

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