Small Pacific Island States and the Catastrophe of Climate Change

Petra Butler Caroline Morris (eds) Small States in a Legal World (Springer, Cham, Switzerland 2017) at 3-20

10 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017

See all articles by Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

This essay reviews the plight of the small states of the South Pacific in light of the Paris Agreement on climate change reached in 2015. It examines the situation in the countries that make up the Pacific Island Forum and the negotiating stances taken by Australia and New Zealand of which the smaller countries did not approve. The worse effects of climate change in the region will be felt by Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and possibly Tokelau. The Maldives in the Indian Ocean will also be seriously affected. It examines the strategies developed by Small Island Developing States and then analyses what they secured from the Paris Agreement concluding that the outcome for them is likely to be too little too late. The analysis stresses the lack of binding enforceable law arising from the Paris Agreement. The essay the moves on to look at the issues through a human rights lens especially the work of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights. While the land of the nations examined may not be totally under water their ability to support their populations will be seriously impaired. There is likely to be massive disruption, inconvenience and great pressure on governments to provide homes elsewhere for their people. These nations may cease to exist. Their cultures identity and their history may be brought to an end.

Keywords: Climate change, Pacific, Paris Agreement, Pacific islands, international law

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K30, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, Small Pacific Island States and the Catastrophe of Climate Change (2017). Petra Butler Caroline Morris (eds) Small States in a Legal World (Springer, Cham, Switzerland 2017) at 3-20 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3015593

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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