School of Law


28.09.2017 10:09 Age: 2 yrs
Category: Law News

Collaborative Research Project on Loss and Damage Resulting from Climate Change

Collaborative Research Project on Loss and Damage Resulting from Climate Change

Six USP law students have enrolled in a climate change law research project that is undertaken jointly by USP, Macquarie University (MQ) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) during the second half of 2017. Students and academics from MQ and QUT are currently in Port Vila to work on the research project. The project is part of an ongoing research programme developed by Dr Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh from the School of Law, in collaboration with the law schools from MU and QUT. Each year a different aspect of international climate change law is investigated. This year’s focus is on legal questions relating to loss and damage resulting from climate change. 

Loss and damage occurs when the impacts of climate change cannot or have not been adequately addressed through mitigation or adaptation measures. The question how to deal with loss and damage is a key issue for the Pacific Islands region. Parts of Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Fiji and the Solomon Islands have already become uninhabitable due to sea level rise, rising king tides and water security issues. Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Tokelau are at risk of losing their entire territories. Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands were hit in 2015 by category 5 Cyclone Pam, which resulted in the loss of 11 Ni-Vanuatu lives, left 75,000 in need of emergency shelter and led to damages and losses equivalent to 64% of Vanuatu’s GDP. In February 2016, parts of Fiji were completely devastated by Cyclone Winston, also a category 5 cyclone, and the strongest ever recorded in Fiji. More severe disasters are predicted to affect the region in the future as temperatures continue to rise. The region currently depends on its own resources and on humanitarian aid to deal with loss and damage. 

At the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, Pacific Island countries and other vulnerable countries secured a provision in the Paris Agreement that recognises loss and damage as an issue that the international climate change regime must addres. Fiji’s Presidency of the upcoming Climate Change Conference in November this year (COP23) provides an opportunity to operationalise this provision. Eighteen students across the three universities—USP, MQ and QUT--are conducting extensive background research of legal materials and relevant literature to investigate the legal basis for progressing critical issues such as finance for loss and damage, climate-induced migration and insurance at COP23. It is hoped that this research contributes to a stronger international framework to address these issues.

The participating USP students are Baadal Sharma, Mariko Hoala, Camilla Batalibasi, Priyashna Mani, Delilah Kukura an Michael Fagani. The research team will produce a journal article authored jointly by participating academics and students, and a legal briefing that will be provided to the Fiji Presidency of COP23. 

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