The nine island nations have sought the guidance of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to ascertain whether carbon dioxide emissions that are absorbed by the oceans can be classified as pollution.
In a significant legal proceeding set to take place in Hamburg, Germany, on September 11th, small island nations that bear a disproportionate impact from the climate crisis will confront high-emitting countries. This event is considered the inaugural climate justice case centered on safeguarding the ocean.
Sea protection under International Tribunal
The leaders of these island nations contend that they are not responsible for causing the issues related to climate change, as they contribute only 1 percent of global carbon emissions. Nonetheless, they are disproportionately burdened by the devastating consequences of climate change. They fear that more widespread disasters are imminent.
Over the course of a two-day hearing, these nations, which include the Bahamas, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Antigua and Barbuda, among others, will present their case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Their objective is to ascertain whether greenhouse gas emissions absorbed by the marine environment should be classified as pollution. Most nations are bound by the legally binding UN convention on the law of the sea, which mandates them to take actions to prevent, minimize, and manage marine pollution.
Officials from over 40 countries, including significant greenhouse gas emitters such as China, India, and European Union member states, have expressed their interest in participating either through oral presentations or written submissions. The focus of these presentations will be on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which serves as the legal framework governing the utilization of oceans and their resources. This framework includes obligations related to the preservation of the marine environment. It’s important to note that while 168 nations have ratified the convention, the United States is not among them.