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G8 Must Help Poor Countries Cope with Climate Change, Set Up Adaptation Fund

BANGKOK, Thailand - Major greenhouse gas
emitters must help poor countries cope with climate change while
recognizing the human rights and gender aspects of climate change, a
panel of judges ruled at the Asian People’s Climate Court in Bangkok on

The verdict outlined that there is a legal basis for reparation
claims on the basis of existing international legal standards and
conventions – to make good for damage in developing countries resulting
from climate impacts which are triggered by historic emissions from
industrialized countries.

The Bangkok court room for this two-hour mock-hearing organized by
the Tcktcktck campaign was filled to the last chair when presiding
judge Amara Pongsapich, Chair of the Thai Human Rights Commission,
ruled that G8 countries have to set up a global adaptation fund with
sufficient finance for poor nations.

“Defendants have threatened and continue to threaten petitioners’
right to life and the sources of life, thus committing planetary
malpractice resulting in inter-generational damages,” said judge
Pongsapich. “They have broken about a dozen international agreements,
for example by breaching their duty not to cause harm or their
obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

The ruling against the G8 plaintiffs came after prosecution and
defense had interviewed ten witnesses, among them two climate
scientists and affected citizens such as Thai and Bangladeshi farmers,
a Nepalese mountain climber, a Filipino fisherman and an Indonesian
women’s advocate.

The presidium of judges in this case of the children of Asia and the
Pacific versus the G8 also instructed the plaintiffs to initiate a
process of setting up an international tribunal on environmental crimes
and appoint a special rapporteur on the human rights dimension of
climate change. The court concluded, however, that “the duty to protect
human rights is the obligation of every state”.


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Chief-Prosecutor Antonio Oposa, a leading environmental lawyer from
The Philippines and recipient of the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Award – the
Asian equivalent of the Nobel prize – said he was satisfied with the
verdict and urged the G8 countries to follow up on the ruling with
agreeing to a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty at the
Copenhagen Summit this December.

“The Asian People’s Climate Court is an experiment to show that
there is a legal basis for developing countries to sue industrialized
nations and demand reparation for damages resulting from climate
change”, said Oposa. “While our mock-trial has shown that the legal
grounds exist, we would prefer to see rapid G8 action to reduce
emissions and fund adaptation in vulnerable countries, rather than a
string of future climate trials about compensation for damage that can
still be avoided if we act today.”

The testimonies by affected witnesses whose lives and livelihoods
depend on effective action to tackle climate change as well as measures
to adapt to unavoidable impacts had given the court and about 150
people in the audience a clear sense that emissions from industrialized
countries over the past 200 years clearly show the culpability of G8
countries for global warming and hardships inflicted on Asia.

“The storms and floods across Asia these days remind us of the huge
threats people in this region are facing already”, said Oxfam climate
change spokesperson Clement Kalonga. “Climate change will make things
only worse, and as judges at the Asian People’s Climate Court found
that the G8 are responsible for the problem, we urge them to live up
their responsibilities at the UN climate talks in Bangkok and put
sufficient finance for adaptation in developing countries on the table.

“First and foremost though, developed countries have a
responsibility to make much deeper cuts in emissions.  We also need a
global climate regime that delivers more than $150bn per year in public
finance – over and above existing aid commitments -- to help developing
countries cope with floods, droughts, storms and disasters, and cut
their future emissions growth,” he said.  “But without having committed
to anything themselves, rich countries keep pushing developing
countries to act. That’s not justice, and if they carry on this way
this week’s hearing shows it could become a crime.”

Notes to editors

  • The
    tribunal was organized by civil society groups throughout the region
    which comprise the Global Coalition for Climate Action (GCCA) and Asia
    Pacific People’s Movement for Debt and Development (APMDD). It is
    supported by 25-30 organizations throughout South and East Asia, and
    especially assisted by the Thai Working Group on Climate Justice and
    the lawyers’ network Global Legal Action on Climate Change (GLACC) and
    Aid for Development.
  • Go to for a copy of the verdict and witness testimonies.

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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