Climate negotiators, decision-makers, and advocates at the Commonwealth People’s Forum have proposed a World Environment Court, as a new global dispute resolution mechanism to arbitrate negotiations over climate loss and damage funding.
The proposal was made on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Kigali during the Commonwealth Peoples Forums to discuss how the coalition of 54 fellow members can advance climate justice.
Speaking during the forum, Rwanda Minister of Justice and Attorney General Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja explained that climate change does not have borders, it transcends borders.
“We only have a very small room of opportunity to really reverse the impacts of climate change and environmental problems — and I think the legal avenues at the multilateral level are very limited at the moment” He adds
The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Scientists studying the potential impact of climate change have warned that Africa is likely to experience higher temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, and increased climate variability.
Dr. James Fletcher, former Saint Lucian climate change negotiator who played a pivotal role in the adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21, supported this in principle, but with caveats.
“I welcome any thought of an environmental court but I know judging from the kind of resistance to loss and damage, we will have problems. That said, civil society can help — because if we just leave it to the politicians to argue, compromises will be made back and deals will be made. We will not be able to do it on our own. We need civil society to champion this.”
Dr. James Fletcher further added that the time for negotiations is now — whether that’s in court or another multilateral forum — as small island states can’t afford more talk.
Other experts have noted that instead of the usual emphasis on “optimism” ahead of the COP27 international climate change negotiations this November, there needs to be “determination and focus” to take action on climate change in a challenging geopolitical context.
Harjeet Singh, the global expert on climate impacts, mitigation, and adaptation from Climate Action Network, weighed in on why historically, climate action has failed to deliver:
He said that the good thing is that over the last few years, we see that terminology of climate justice has become more popular than climate action. People now understand that the challenge is the negotiations.
“When you talk about justice, you have to mention historical responsibility. We have to talk about who is responsible for the crisis, who is suffering, and who has to do the most to deal with the crisis. So countries or corporations, who are responsible for it, have to take the bigger responsibility.” He observed
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