By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Sharm El Sheikh

Vanuatu’s much awaited UN General Assembly Resolution that is seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to protect the rights of people against the adverse effects of climate change will be announced this week, at the COP27 meeting in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

Minister Ralph Regenvanu, the country’s new climate change minister is attending COP27 to seek more support for the UN Resolution, the first of its kind to clarify the obligation of the States under international law to protect the rights of the present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change.

“Vanuatu, as part of a coalition of 18 nations, will release at 10am on Friday the agreed text of a UN General Assembly Resolution seeking an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice clarifying the obligations of States under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change.

“We are calling on all countries to vote in support of this Resolution at the United Nations General Assembly. We understand that the General Assembly vote will happen as soon as next month.”

“We must advance global momentum to keep 1.5C alive. If that 1.5 threshold is crossed, many in this room who are already questioning the integrity of this process, will take this fight for our lives elsewhere, said Minister Regenvanu.

Minister Regenvanu delivered a strong and powerful statement on arrival Monday at Sharm El Sheikh Monday – demanding that fossil fuel companies pay for loss and damage that’s devastated many economies including the Pacific.

And, Minister Regenvanu urged likeminded countries to get on board and support the fossil fuel non- proliferation treaty that’s gaining momentum here on the margins of COP27.

“It is clear that a Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty must be established with a concrete goal to phase out the production of fossil fuels, eliminate subsidies, and ensure a just transition to a zero carbon future, and Vanuatu supports this Treaty and calls on like-minded countries to join the effort and push the Treaty towards its realisation.

Minister Ralph Regenvanu. Photo via Twitter

He said Vanuatu also joins the call for a Climate Damage Tax targeting the producers of oil, coal and gas.

“The use of the substantial revenues raised from such a tax could be allocated through the appropriate UN body, such as the Green Climate Fund or similar financial mechanisms, for the alleviation and avoidance of the suffering caused by severe impacts of climate change in developing countries, including those communities forced from their homes, said Mr Regenvanu.

The Vanuatu Minister reiterated that “ 1.5 degrees is a redline, an existential threshold for Vanuatu, which we cannot cross.”

“Vanuatu is only responsible for 0.0016 percent of global emissions, but we face the full force of climate change impacts. We must see sustained, radical, and socially just cuts to emissions, now, and not later.”

“This cannot happen if we continue to use fossil fuels and at the very bare minimum, all coal, oil and gas must stay in the ground. There must be no new expansion of fossil fuel projects anywhere. There is no other option for Vanuatu, and no other option for the world. Coal, Oil and Gas are inconsistent with the needs of present and future generations, said Minister Regenvanu.

Vanuatu was one of 29 countries to meet the Glasgow Pact obligation and revised and enhanced its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) with a target of 100% renewable energy for electricity generation by 2030.

“There needs to be accountability for those Parties whose NDCs are not Paris aligned, and will take us well past 1.5 degrees.

“Upholding our existing obligations under international law will ensure that all States take appropriate action to prevent harm from fossil fuels,” said Ambassador Regenvanu.