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Young villagers play in the Pacific Ocean in the village of Waisisi on December 3, 2019 in Tanna, Vanuatu. 25 percent of Vanuatu's 276,000 citizens lost their homes when Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm, devastated the South Pacific archipelago of 83 islands in 2015. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Young villagers play in the Pacific Ocean in the village of Waisisi on December 3, 2019 in Tanna, Vanuatu. 25 percent of Vanuatu's 276,000 citizens lost their homes when Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm, devastated the South Pacific archipelago of 83 islands in 2015. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Addressing Crisis 'Existentially Imperiling' Its People, Vanuatu Declares Climate Emergency

"We are in danger now, not just in the future," said Prime Minister Bob Loughman.

Andrea Germanos

Vanuatu on Friday declared a climate emergency, blaming the ecological crisis for "undermining the fundamental human rights of present and future generations" on the South Pacific island nation.

Its Parliament unanimously passed the motion introduced by Prime Minister Bob Loughman.

"The climate crisis is a human rights crisis," said Loughman.

"Civil society and friends, this is not a crisis that I or my people will continue to accept; not before we have done everything within our powers to stop it," he added.

MP for Port Vila and opposition leader Ralph Regenvanu shared the news on Twitter. He wrote that the first of the resolution's 17 points states, "The Parliament of Vanuatu declares that a climate emergency exists that is now existentially imperiling the people, societies, and natural resources of the Republic of Vanuatu."

The nation, as Loughman noted, is already being impacted by extreme weather events fueled by the climate emergency—a crisis to which it's contributed little.

"The Earth is already too hot and unsafe," he said. "We are in danger now, not just in the future."

The declaration won praise from climate activist Gladys Habu of the Solomon Islands, who said, "Thank you Vanuatu for leading the way."

Last year, Vanuatu said it would call on the International Court of Justice to clarify nations' responsibilities on climate with respect to present and future generations, a campaign that's now gathered support from 1,500 civil society groups.  

In a tweet welcoming the emergency declaration, the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network praised Vanuatu for being a consistent advocate for bold climate action.

"The Vanuatu Government has always led the way when it comes to bold climate action and addressing the climate crisis with the urgency that it deserves," the group said.


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