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Ocean Law Bulletins

Fiji's proposed Climate Change law is extraordinary, wide-ranging and open for consultation

Oct 24, 2019 / by James Sloan and Marita Manley posted in climate change, Pacific Ocean, Fiji Climate Change law, Fiji Climate Change Bill, Climate Change Law, United Nations

Fiji’s new proposed climate change law affects every Fiji citizen regardless of whether s/he is a Minister, member of Parliament, Permanent Secretary, a CEO of a company, a builder, an IT expert, a marine scientist or proponent of marine conservation, a retailer, a farmer, or a member of a community or neighbouring Pacific Island country at risk of displacement as a result of climate change.

In the last few years, Fiji has become a global and regional leader in raising awareness of climate change, its effects and what all nation States should do to reduce their emissions to keep us within 1.5C of average global warming and avoid dangerous climate change. Fiji's leadership in this arena has in the last month produced a draft Climate Change Bill (the Bill) which is available for public consultation. It has been reported (Fiji Sun, 8 August 2019) that the government of Fiji intends the Bill to become law, by being passed as an Act of Parliament before December 2019. If the Bill is passed it will become the Climate Change Act (the Act). Although not presently law, to avoid confusion we simply refer to the proposed legislation as "the Bill" or "the legislation" in this bulletin as it has not, as yet, become an Act of Parliament.

In this extended and detailed legal bulletin we review the Bill to assist with the further consultations that should take place and, we hope, assist the bold statement and action that Fiji is demonstrating in the face of the climate emergency. All the persons that have been involved in this review support Fiji’s initiative to introduce comprehensive climate change legislation, and provide comments in the spirit of raising awareness of, and assisting with consultation about, the legislation to best suit it to Fiji’s context.

To have your say on the Bill, and to obtain an electronic copy, please click: here

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Oceans and Climate Change: how can Pacific Islands rise to the challenge?

Oct 23, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Pacific, Fiji mangroves, Marine Protected Areas, UNCLOS, climate change, Maritime boundaries, Marine Conservation

The Pacific Island States have a moral authority to call on developed and developing States to curb their CO2 emissions which are the main cause of Climate Change. This is a message that Fiji will, on behalf of the people of the Pacific, lead with when it co-hosts COP23 in Bonn, Germany in November 2017.

In facing the unprecedented challenge of climate change Pacific Island States are also clear about what they want. This includes:

  • The global temperature rise stays below 1.5 degrees celsius
  • Healthy oceans with functioning ecosystems to enable the oceans to continue to capture CO2
  • Meeting the adaptation challenges in coastal areas and on low lying atolls
  • Climate financing for oceans/fisheries projects that promote sustainable use of resources and the return of a fair income from the sustainable harvesting of these resources to Pacific Island economies
  • Innovative solutions to reduce the pollution and CO2 from the maritime shipping industry.

In this bulletin we address 3 specific ocean issues that represent part of how Pacific Islands can rise to the challenges of Climate Change and also illustrate why law and governance is integral to meeting the challenges. The 3 ocean issues are:

  • Legal rights to ocean spaces
  • Mangroves
  • Marine Protected Areas
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Paris, Marrakech and beyond

Mar 30, 2017 / by Kevin Chand posted in Oceans Law, climate change

In November 2016, the Moroccan city of Marrakech hosted the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC provides the foundation for international cooperation to combat climate change and its impacts on nations and the environment. Both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement sit within this framework. The Conference of the Parties serve as formal meetings for parties to the UNFCCC where member nations can take stock of their progress, monitor the implementation of their obligations and continue discussions on how best to tackle climate change. Marrakech also served as the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Marrakech followed COP 21 in Paris, which culminated in the much-lauded Paris Agreement. Marrakech was seen as the opportunity to tie up loose ends and finalize details for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In this bulletin we examine why climate change is an important legal issue for oceans, and provide an overview of the significant achievement of COP 21 in Paries, what happened in Marrakech and look forward to the opportunities and challenges at COP 23 in Bonn where Fiji will take a leading role and at what is being dubbed as "the Pacific COP".

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