Skip to main content

World Low-lying Vanuatu seeking to sue climate-change culprits

Low-lying Vanuatu is considering suing fossil fuel companies and industrialised countries that use them for their role in creating catastrophic climate change, the foreign minister of the Pacific island nation said on Thursday.

Vanuatu, with an estimated population of 280,000 people spread across roughly 80 islands, is among more than a dozen Pacific island nations that already face rising sea levels and more regular storms that can wipe out much of their economies.

Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu said it was time that some of the billions of dollars of profits fossil fuel companies generate every year goes towards the damage they cause in countries like “desperate” Vanuatu.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is really about claiming for the damages,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Speaking at the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s Virtual Summit earlier in the day, Regenvanu announced the legal options Vanuatu was considering.

“My government is now exploring all avenues to utilize the judicial system in various jurisdictions - including under international law - to shift the costs of climate protection back on to fossil fuel companies, the financial institutions and the governments that actively and knowingly created this existential threat to my country,” he said.

About 64 percent of Vanuatu’s GDP was wiped out in a single cyclone in 2015, causing economic losses of $449.4 million, he said.

Samoa, on behalf of the 18 Pacific island forum members, including Vanuatu, on Saturday called on leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to pay more attention to climate change.

Regenvanu said Vanuatu was also pursuing the idea of joining hands with other nations to pursue legal action.

“We are looking for climate vulnerable countries who are willing to step up and be involved in such a case,” he told Reuters.

Story continues below advertisement

He said Vanuatu would discuss it with other countries at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP24, next month.

“Vanuatu’s brave announcement today is part of a global wave of legal action against oil, gas, and coal companies and laggard governments,” Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said in a statement.

Climate change lawsuits against big corporations and governments are on the rise.

The U.S. city of Baltimore filed a lawsuit in June against 26 oil and gas companies and entities, including BP Plc, Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp, for knowingly contributing to what the city called the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter