Vanuatu declares a climate emergency


Vanuatu has become the first Pacific Small Island Developing State to declare it is facing a climate emergency.

In a Twitter post, the leader of the opposition Ralph Regenvanu announced parliament passed a 17-point resolution declaring a climate emergency last Friday.

Regenvanu said under Point 1 of the resolution, “The Parliament declares that a climate emergency exists that is now existentially imperilling the people, societies and natural resources of the Republic of Vanuatu.”

He adds “Point 2 further declares that climate change is now undermining the fundamental human rights of present and future generations of Vanuatu’s people.”

The Melanesian nation is among the most climate-threatened nations in the world.

It announced its intention to seek an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice last year.

The initiative received a major push from more than 1,500 civil society organisations early this month and will be put to a vote at the United Nations General Assembly later this year.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman said the Pacific can’t survive if rich corporations and governments continue to put profits ahead of people and the planet.

“The climate crisis is a human rights crisis. Civil society and friends, this is not a crisis that I or my people will continue to accept; not before we have done everything within our powers to stop it. We, the smallest nations of the world do have power,” he said.

In 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam, the first category five cyclone in the Pacific region, was regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Vanuatu.

About 188,000 people were affected out of a total population of 270,000.