13. CLIMATE ACTION

Coalition of small island states makes a case that greenhouse gas emissions are covered by UN Law of the Sea

Coalition of small island states makes a case that greenhouse gas emissions are covered by UN Law of the Sea
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Coalition of small island states makes a case that greenhouse gas …  The World from PRX

Coalition of small island states makes a case that greenhouse gas emissions are covered by UN Law of the Sea

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Introduction

This report focuses on a coalition of small island states that is currently seeking an international tribunal’s ruling on whether greenhouse gas pollution falls under the purview of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Convention governs marine territorial rights and navigation, and requires states to prevent and control marine pollution.

The Coalition and their Concerns

The coalition, led by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, consists of nine Pacific and Caribbean islands. They argue that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have significantly polluted the oceans, leading to devastating consequences for marine life. These consequences include marine heat waves, coral bleaching, fish stock migration, and sea level rise. The small island states view these impacts as existential threats to their survival.

Interpretation of the Law of the Sea

The coalition believes that the Law of the Sea should be interpreted by the court as requiring countries to reduce emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This interpretation would align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.

Potential Legal Implications

The tribunal’s advisory opinion would not be legally binding. However, it could set a precedent for future cases that would be legally binding. For example, one country could file an injunction against another’s plan to build a new coal-fired power plant if it can be proven that the emissions from that plant would have significant impacts on the oceans.

Impact on National Courts

Although the United States is not a party to the UN Law of the Sea Convention, the tribunal’s ruling could still inform decisions in national courts. This means that the ruling could have implications beyond the coalition of small island states.

Arguments and Counterarguments

  • Saudi Arabia and Australia have argued that the Law of the Sea does not apply to greenhouse gases. Australia’s solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue claims that these gases present a new and different type of challenge compared to the marine pollution that the law was originally written to address.

Previous Cases and Frustration with Climate Talks

This is the third case of its kind brought before international courts this year, and the second led by small island nations. The coalition states that they have turned to the tribunal because they are tired of decades of climate talks resulting in insufficient progress.

Conclusion

The tribunal hearing will continue until September 25, with a decision expected by next spring. While the ruling may not provide a definitive answer on emission reduction targets, it could serve as persuasive evidence in future litigation. The coalition of small island states hopes that their efforts will contribute to finding a solution to the climate crisis.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.A: Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.B: Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing states, including focusing on women, youth, and local and marginalized communities Indicator not mentioned in the article
SDG 14: Life Below Water Target 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 14.2: By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration to achieve healthy and productive oceans Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 14.3: Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 14.7: By 2030, increase the economic benefits to small island developing states and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 14.C: Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want Indicator not mentioned in the article

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

SDG 13: Climate Action

The article discusses the impact of greenhouse gas pollution on the world’s oceans, including marine heat waves, coral bleaching, migration of fish stocks, and sea level rise. These issues are directly connected to climate change and fall under SDG 13, which focuses on taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

SDG 14: Life Below Water

The article also highlights the importance of protecting marine and coastal ecosystems and addressing marine pollution. These issues align with SDG 14, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources.

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters

The article emphasizes the need to address the impacts of climate change on small island states, which includes strengthening their resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards such as sea level rise and marine heat waves.

Target 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

The article mentions that the UN Law of the Sea Convention requires states to prevent and control marine pollution. This aligns with the target of preventing and reducing marine pollution, including pollution from land-based activities.

Target 14.2: By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration to achieve healthy and productive oceans

The article highlights the importance of protecting marine and coastal ecosystems and taking action for their restoration. This aligns with the target of sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid adverse impacts and achieve healthy and productive oceans.

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

No, the article does not mention or imply any specific indicators that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets.

4. SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning Indicator not mentioned

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: theworld.org

 

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