Lead or sue? Pacific islands take twin tracks on climate change

Author, Climate Home News.

Published on 22/11/2018, 3:43pm

Vanuatu becomes the first nation state to threaten oil majors with climate damages lawsuits, while the Marshall Islands submits updated climate plan to the UN

By Megan Darby

Pacific Island nations declared two world firsts on Thursday, as part of a “virtual climate summit”.

Vanuatu is considering legal action against oil majors for climate damages, foreign minister Ralph Regenvanu revealed – an unprecedented move by a nation state.

The Marshall Islands submitted the first updated national climate plan to the UN climate body, urging others to follow by 2020.

Both are members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), an informal grouping of 48 countries hit hard by the impacts of global warming.

“The injustice of climate change is that the impacts are felt first and hardest by those with the least responsibility for its causes. Vanuatu is on the front lines of climate change and yet we have benefited least from the exploitation of fossil fuels that has caused it,” said Regenvanu.

“I am therefore today putting the fossil fuel industry, and the states that sponsor it, on notice that the climate loss and damages ravaging Vanuatu will not go unchallenged. My government is now exploring all avenues to utilise the judicial system in various jurisdictions – including under international law – to shift the costs of climate protection back onto the fossil fuel companies, the financial institutions and the governments that actively and knowingly created this existential threat to Vanuatu.”

Vanuatu lost 64% of its GDP in a single 2015 tropical storm, Regenvanu said, arguing the profits of polluting companies should go to alleviate its suffering. He cited research attributing around two thirds of historic greenhouse gas emissions to 90 coal, oil, gas and cement companies.

Climate lawyers to use UN 1.5C report to sue governments

A special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month warned the world is on track to exceed 1.5C of global warming between 2030 and 2052. That has drastic implications for small island states, which are exposed to sea level rise, intensifying tropical storms and the loss of valuable coral reef ecosystems.

Ian Fry, climate ambassador for Tuvalu, told Climate Home News he had had “a flurry of interest from legal sources suggesting this is an ideal opportunity to take legal action” since the report came out. The country has a “watching brief” on the matter but faces “resource challenges”, he added.

Climate litigation is a growing field, as the gap between science-based goals and action widens. Lawyers are testing a variety of arguments, from human rights to fiscal responsibility, in the courts.

Greenpeace praised Regenvanu’s announcement. “In a world full of political short-sightedness and cowardice, we need clear political and moral leadership,” said executive director Jennifer Morgan. “Communities impacted by climate change are standing up and demanding that those responsible finally be held to account. We stand in solidarity with these communities all around the world.”

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We know we need to keep on this story, but after a huge 2018 and with the biggest UNFCCC talks in years approaching, our resources are really stretched. Please help us to keep Fabiano writing by making a small donation through our Patreon account.

The Marshall Islands, which has just taken over the chair of the CVF, is taking a less confrontational approach. Despite its tiny contribution to global emissions, it is seeking to set an example with a rapid transition to clean energy. “We believe in leading from the front,” said president Hilda Heine.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries submitted national climate targets to the UN. Recognising these were collectively inadequate to meet global temperature goals, the deal set out a five-year cycle for ratcheting up ambition.

Majuro is leading the drive to revise national climate plans before 2020. Its updated version makes binding a target to cut emissions 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and adds an indicative target to go to 58% by 2035, on a straight line to net zero in 2050.

Those goals are subject to domestic consultation and the availability of financial support.

CVF leaders also released the “Jumemmej declaration“, based on a Marshallese concept of permanent vigilance, such as seafarers need on an ocean voyage.

It urged countries negotiating at next month’s Cop24 climate summit in Katowice to act on the findings of the IPCC special report. Members of the group committed to increasing their own levels of ambition by 2020, “to keep the 1.5C warming limit within reach”.

The group also called for action to unlock climate finance flows for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

Additional reporting by Karl Mathiesen.

This article originally appeared on Climate Home News

HT/LdB

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65 thoughts on “Lead or sue? Pacific islands take twin tracks on climate change

  1. Considering that sea level rise had been steady and at the same rate for as long as it has been measured (if one uses the same measurement method), and that the Pacific Islands in question have gained land area, and tropical storms are steady or decreasing, what are the grounds for the suit?

    • Feelings matter these days as evidence in post normal science. What you want or wish facts to be outweigh objective observational facts. This is precisely the justification for adjusting data that needs a boost to fit the desired scientific theory and which then can be employed to prove the theory.

      They don’t need to adjust CO2 measurements because these are favorably rising even though the CO2 NASA imagery shows large “emissions” from unexpected wilderness areas – probably the reason why this “smoking gun”, like the inconvenient “Great Greening ^тм” imagery, which shocked the climate science cooperative, gets put in the dark archives except for some lame published works, no longer put forth, explaining why this is all worse than we thought. “Worse” indeed is the thought churned out regularly by the climate minnions.

      And what about those high tech, 0.1C accuracy ducking , diving Ocean Buoys assiduously but vainly measuring from the depths to the surface water temperatures etc. and transmitting to unmanned (?) receivers. Their crime for reporting ocean cooling was to be replaced by negligently wielded shipboard +/- 2C water buckets. This at least gave Trenberth a break, no longer needing to ferret out where that dang heat was hiding.

      • Just immediately halt distribution of any fossil fuel energy supply or fossil sourced products on the islands of Vanuatu and see how quickly they capitulate

        • halt ALL cruise boats as theyre so nasty using fossil fuels and halt all bar food n vital meds etc by plane too

        • Oh no, the users of oil are not guilty! The 90 companies are guilty. As all good socialist know, the evil is caused by big companies not being taxed to death.

          the profits of polluting companies should go to alleviate its suffering. He cited research attributing around two thirds of historic greenhouse gas emissions to 90 coal, oil, gas and cement companies.

          The research or its presentation so is full BS. We, the people, wanted cement, energy, heat and transportation. Vanuate would be totally stone-aged without these. It’s a choice. Either stone age or fossils. This so until there is enough nuclear and pumped hydro. Or whatever future brings.

    • I think you’ll find Tom that the grounds are that the transfer of wealth simply isn’t happening fast enough…

    • “what are the grounds for the suit?”

      There are no grounds, scientific or otherwise. It’s a frivilous lawsuit.

    • It is clear that there is no one with any geological education specifically oceanic vulcanology in a talking position. This is all about money, an obscene money grab where facts based on credible scientific data as well as truth and ethics have no place when feelings only will suffice for the doom mongers of the AGM religion .

    • “wouldn’t you have to have some sort of damages first?”

      Well, you don’t have to have any damages to file a lawsuit, but you do usually have to have damages to win a lawsuit.

      These people can’t show any damages. The only damages are all in their imaginations.

      • Vanuatu is of volcanic origin. The islands are not 5 foot high atolls, they are hundreds, even thousands, of feet high. Much of the land rises sharply from the ocean.

        Sea level is of zero consequence to them.

  2. Cop24 climate summit in Katowice starts in 9 days time, the AccuWeather forecasts globally very warming temperature of around 0C (32F). Hope they all get snowed in too.

    • well if they were smart theyd ask the chinese to use their dredgers to make new land;-)
      they showed how fast and effective they are doing that with the spratleys etc already.
      no more fund to the island nations juts pay contractors to dump sand n build em up
      betcha theyd scream blue murder to have their best cashcow scam totally negated;-)

      • ozspeaksup..

        ….well if they were smart theyd ask the chinese to use their dredgers to make new land;-)

        Last time I was in the Marshall Islands they were busy building more land. The airport was largely reclaimed land from the ocean bottom and the leftovers from shiploads of consumer goods all wind up in landfills, actually increasing land area at the expense of shallow water bays. Truth be known the Marshalls and others Chuuk, Waab, Belau etc. are gaining on sea level rise…as they say in OZ “no worries mate”!
        Cheers
        Mike

  3. So those 90 coal, oil, gas and cement companies should stop providing any product to Vanuatu, let them go back to nature & enjoy the GDP of their ancestors.

    • My thoughts exactly saveenergy. Stop supplying fuel for their cars etc. No more concrete for their resorts. Let no planes land at their airports or cargo ships or cruise ships dock in their ports. Let them go back to a primitive stone age existence. See how long the last. If there island is hit by another cyclone in the future the world can send them aid by canoe.

      • I wonder how much influence china has in this decision. A new cold war is starting in the pacific. China vs usa oz and japan

  4. I can’t help but think that the war against the climate change alarmists is lost. A small battle here or there is won but it’s not enough to make a real difference. Rational science has no chance against the alliance of globalists, corrupt scientists, left leaning politicians and the religious environmentalists. Once you step outside of WUWT it’s clear they’re winning on every front. They’re organized on a world scale and we are not. Once Trump is out of office the U.S. will join the alliance. He’s just a temporary obstacle for them to wait out.

    History is full of ideas that when implemented left death and destruction in their wake. The idea of the need to take drastic measures against human caused climate change is just another.

    As an aside….. I just heard Peter Gleick quoted as an expert on climate change on a KCBS radio report about the recent government dire report on climate change. Ughhh!

    • But no Government is taking the requested actions.
      No company’s shares have been affected by expected legislation. Because none is expected.
      No-one is taking Climate Change seriously. They have lost the cultural war.
      Look at how many blockbuster movies have Malthusian villains. It was Big Bad Business back in the 80s and 90s but not anymore.

      A small sub-culture still exists. It’s fed by dead media and Twitter echo chambers.
      But these Millennial Fears have no energy left.
      They lost.

    • Chuck

      the ‘war’ as you describe it, against the climate alarmists is hardly a war IMO.

      It might be a hypothesis, or a collection of hypothesis each balanced against another, but I think it’s wrong to describe a scientific and political debate as a war.

      Indeed, differences between the two camps certainly won’t be decided by one or other of them, it’ll be decided by mother earth.

      I suspect therefore both sides of the debate might be described as observational participants. A bit like a Rugby match where competing teams slug it out and the referee announces him/herself as the winner, every single time.

      There are no real rights or wrongs to the debate, there’s simply discussions, which will go on until the ref wins the final round and he/she takes over.

      In the climate change debate, mother nature is the ref, and will decide the final outcome. If we do nothing about climate change the ref wins. If we do everything we can about climate change, the ref still wins.

      The question is, how do we want to play the game between the two teams in the intervening period before the ref wins?

    • Just because they have support of the media and politicians don’t think they are winning. Reality in the form of mother nature and people’s nature will win in the end.

    • “I can’t help but think that the war against the climate change alarmists is lost. A small battle here or there is won but it’s not enough to make a real difference. Rational science has no chance against the alliance of globalists, corrupt scientists, left leaning politicians and the religious environmentalists. Once you step outside of WUWT it’s clear they’re winning on every front. They’re organized on a world scale and we are not. Once Trump is out of office the U.S. will join the alliance. He’s just a temporary obstacle for them to wait out. ”

      You are correct that there are formidable forces arrayed against the skeptics, but there’s one thing those forces cannot control, the thermometer. If the temperatures continue to fall then their CAGW speculation goes up in smoke just like the human-caused Global Cooling speculation.

      Plus, the alarmists cannot provide even one bit of evidence to back up their CAGW claims. Reasonable people will see this. Let’s hope reasonable people outnumber unreasonable people in the world, and we are fortunate enough to get reasonable judges to hear the cases. We got one not so long ago and the lawsuit failed and the oil companies were not held liable.

  5. I see parallels here. Just for effect, they should burn symbolic witches too. That’s what happened the last time climate changed. And what’s the dif between getting warmer or colder? However, if the left has their way, sacrifices won’t have to be symbolic.

    The script from the left goes something like this? We must end the distribution and use of cheap energy sources world wide. So the goal is that even all those third world countries can go without cheap fuel too. Good. Lots of automatic human sacrifices available without even having to plan the get together event. But at least they will have money.

  6. When we emerge from this nightmare of destruction of civilization, I hope we have truly learned a lesson. The Constitution will need heavy boilerplate, even at the cost of some useful flexibility. New institutions of learning will be needed – I see no rehabilitation possible. Harvard and all the other “elite” social engineering colleges should be left to die in their own waste maybe become museums of the days when the world suffered a massive psychotic episode. “Lest we forget” monuments maybe.

  7. When I occasionally remark about something or another in the UK, more often than not I’m told ‘If you don’t like it you can go back where you come from’.
    Since scientific journal Nature reveals that ancestors of the Vanuatu’s natives arrived 3,000 years ago from Taiwan and northern Philippines and the rest are Europeans; if they don’t like the islands they can go back where they came from.
    I suppose, one could say same thing about Americans who don’t like politics of their government.

  8. Countries such as Vanuatu would need to be able to provide sufficient proof of CAGW being a cause of storms and this would require supporting evidence. If you look at the actual data in the region you can see a decreasing trend of cyclones over the past few decades.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/climatology/trends.shtml

    Ironically, the AU BOM, which is a very pro AGW institution writes this sentence below to dismiss the decreasing trend. “There is substantial evidence from theory and model experiments that the large-scale environment in which tropical cyclones form and evolve is changing as a result of global warming…”

    This is hilarious – “substantial evidence from theory”. It’s difficult to fathom that you can create a BS theory and then use the modelled outputs as evidence, dispite the measured data showing the opposite.

    Perhaps taking AGW to the courts might not be such a bad idea ?

    • The case of Vanuatu versus big oil would also need to take into account some incomvenient facts.

      https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/vut/

      Their largest exports are tug boats and fish, both of which rely on crude oil. Their largest imports are passenger and cargo ships, which also rely on crude oil, followed by oil itself.

      Of course, if crude oil did not exist there would be no tourism to Vanuatu and no exports or imports either. The same applies to the global economy. Is this what they really want ?

  9. This is the problem in todays world. A “Model”produces a result, but no one asks what the initial prrogramming told it to say.

    Then what is a “What if ” theory becomes via the Media a scientific fact.

    MJE

  10. Right. It’s Exxon-Mobil’s fault they don’t budget their money correctly and build hurricane proof buildings.

    Something about biting the hand that feeds you comes to mind. But I can’t seem to remember how it goes.

  11. This is the problem in todays world. A “Model”produces a result, but no one asks what the initial prrogramming told i the computer to say.

    Then what is a “What if ” theory becomes via the Media a scientific fact.

    MJE

  12. As it started to warm up after the LIA, there were these Monks from a town in the Alps foothills who were convinced that they caused the warming by going to the edge of the advancing glacier, dousing it with holy water and praying for it to stop so it wouldn’t bury their town. It’s interesting how it remains difficult for people driven by ideology to distinguish between coincidence, causation and the direction of causality, especially if a specific correlation confirms their beliefs and more so when it leads to a financial gain (or the avoidance of loss).

  13. Vanuatu needs to immediately cut oil imports, and ban the use of fossil fuel transport to and from the island to avoid looking like hypocrites. He he he

    • Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with their attitude that can’t be fixed by making them import everything by sailboats or canoes again.

  14. So how many of these suits have actually seen real court time? Several have been dismissed citing various reasons like “show me the damages” and “who’s fault is it for taking advantage of fossil fuels and bringing prosperity”? I don’t see a chance any will ever actually go to trial. This is nothing but posturing and gold digging and lack any merit. Pretty soon there will be enough track record of dismissals that they won’t get beyond filing.

  15. “John Frum he come” of the New Hebrides (oops, excuse me Vanuatu) Cargo Cult movement bearing his name that started over 60 years ago is apparently finally being given up on in the islands. If any young-ish readers incredulously think I made up something there please go internet away about “cargo cult”.

    Vanuatu is also an international tax haven, so one would think there is plenty of freshly washed money already there to put up. Still, citys are not known to be a really cheap for ex-pats; for example this year the basic food of 12 eggs costs ~US$3.95.

  16. From the article: Ian Fry, climate ambassador for Tuvalu, told Climate Home News he had had “a flurry of interest from legal sources suggesting this is an ideal opportunity to take legal action”

    LOL! I’ll bet they showed a flurry of interest. Money does that to people.

    The lawyers are going to love these guys. They are not only going to sue the oil companies, they are going to sue Western nations, too.

    Forget suing the United States. We ain’t payin’. Trump said so.

  17. From the article: ““Communities impacted by climate change are standing up and demanding that those responsible finally be held to account. We stand in solidarity with these communities all around the world.”

    Could you name a few of these communities? Just to make sure you are not exaggerating, you understand.

    I’ll hazard a guess that no community on Earth can show a connection between any damage they claim and human-caused CO2.

    We should welcome the lawsuits though, because it will give more opportunities to debunk the CAGW lie.

  18. Vanuatu is 80% powered by diesel.
    Their electricity power plants are mainly diesel.
    And all their vehicles are petroleum run.
    Biting the hand that feeds you.

  19. Shouldn’t they be suing themselves for USING oil, gas, etc as the ‘pollution’ is only released during use?

    If this were to be upheld, the way is open to sue the manufacturer of anything that is used in a crime:

    “If you had not manufactured that hoody the perpetrator would not have been able to cover his/her/zer/xer face”

    “As a teacher, you taught the perpetrator to speak and the threatening language they used is a crime, therefore you are responsible and must pay compensation”

    Long slippery slopes come to mind and too little attention is paid to unexpected consequences

  20. Much as I am not a fan of multinational corporations it seems to me there’s a simple solution to the islands suing Big Oil.

    Stop the supply.

    “Sorry, but you clearly show you think oil is a demonic substance and we do not wish to tread on any toes so we promise to never deliver any more of the evil oil to you”

    Lets see if anyone is willing to instantly build renewables for them and how fast Elon Musk can give them batteries.

    And given the rush of eager nations to pay $Billions into the AGW scam, I wonder who would pay for all the replacements?

    Will islanders be driving around Teslas because they can’t run their cars?

    Will engine oil start costing $Hundreds per litre because they have to privately ship the oil needed to keep the wheels turning?

    Is there a Tesla tractor to plough their fields?

    Mind you, I don’t doubt they could find a court to hear the case and give the ‘right’ verdict – the EU is horribly compromised on sanity.

  21. “Greenpeace praised Regenvanu’s announcement. “In a world full of political short-sightedness and cowardice, we need clear political and moral leadership”

    Wait… GREENPEACE is talking morals? The fanatic group that polluted the Nazca plain and admitted in court that they lie to attack a Canadian Forestry company and that what they say should NOT be taken as being true?

    THAT Greenpeace is talking about a moral stance?

  22. I thought that Tuvalu had brought a court case against the USA some 15 or so years ago, contending that their sea encroachment problems were the result of GHG use. My recollection is that oceanographers demonstrated that sea levels in the Tuvalu area had actually gone down slightly. Hence Tuvalu lost their case.

    Tuvalu’s problems are largely self-inflicted, over-population, reef destruction, etc.

    Can anyone confirm or deny this story?

    • They also tried the stunt against Australia only to be told there is no legal grounds and no court under Australian law that could hear such a thing. Australian law is not founded on personal rights, we have no rights given to us we have laws that simply tell us what we can not do.

      The discussion was further extended in a senate hearing to the fact that Australia had never been approached by a Pacific island government to make arrangements for people to come to Australia to escape rising sea levels. It was also a fact that even if they did so there appeal would be unsuccessful because “environmental or climate refugee” is not a category under the Refugee Convention which is the world agreement that would be used to assess them.

  23. None of them are asking to have fossil fuel and its byproducts cut off.

    I presume their logic, borrowed from the suits backed by US AGs, is that the world is now totally and irreversibly dependent on the use of fossil energy, which is having devastating impacts on the planet and on our poor city/our island.

    Because oil, cement companies caused and still profit from this problem, it is only right that they should compensate our city/island for this terrible harm so we can invest in the necessary mitigation efforts (which never seem to materialize).

  24. I’d like to see a case bought just so the facts are laid out for all to see, (like geotectonic geodetic factors as well) and we can rub it in the nose of all their govts, the IPCC, the Aust ABC, and all the other anti-science loonies.

    • The facts have been available for everyone to see for decades. But the warmunists and leftists and media ignore the facts. They are all in on the falsehood side.

  25. “the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), an informal grouping of 48 countries hit hard by the impacts of global warming” Hit hard??? They haven’t felt any effects at all. But they are making a mint off playing the victim card.

    • ‘hit hard’ sounds like some conditional past future tense.

      Or they call a single storm ‘climate change’.

  26. I do wish the companies would have the courage to demand the science first undergoes a trial as proven beyond reasonable doubt in a law court not a kangaroo court of the accusers alone, otherwise known as peer review.

  27. So, instead of building economies which create wealth for their populations they are going to use lawywers to steal money from everyone else. Got it, they are members of the Democrat Party.

  28. In response, and to help Vanuatu become a carbon free utopia, ALL fossil fuel companies should immediately cease ALL sales of any fossil fuel to Vanuatu.

    I mean if I was a doctor and my patient threatened to sue me for malpractice, I wouldn’t continue treating them.

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