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Micronesia makes legal history by challenging carbon emitter

Press Release – Greenpeace

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has made legal history by challenging the development of one of Europe’s largest coal-fired power stations, opening the door for climate-stricken nations to use international law to take action against major …Micronesia makes legal history by challenging carbon emitter

New York, 23 May 2011 – The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has made legal history by challenging the development of one of Europe’s largest coal-fired power stations, opening the door for climate-stricken nations to use international law to take action against major carbon emitters that pose a significant risk to their survival.

The landmark legal paper, written by FSM, Greenpeace and the Environmental Law Service, and presented today at the Threatened Island Nations Climate Conference in New York’s Columbia University, offers hope to vulnerable countries on the frontline of climate impacts. FSM is one of many nation states experiencing environmental disasters, such as flooding, tidal surges and destruction of food crops, which are already exacerbated by climate change.

“The very real impacts of climate change are happening on our disappearing shores,” said Maketo Robert, Secretary of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federated States of Micronesia: “This legal tool demonstrates that nations on the frontline of climate change are now supported by, and must prepare to invoke, the international law in making meaningful and more effective inputs into energy decisions.”

“This move by Federated States of Micronesia is a first for climate litigation and the first time a vulnerable nation has established itself as a stakeholder in a dirty energy project on the other side of the planet.” said Jasper Teulings, General Counsel at Greenpeace International. “Vulnerable nations have long been the moral voice on climate change, now they have a legal one too. Governments and corporations need to accept that it is indefensible to pursue dirty energy, when a clean and secure future powered by renewable energy is achievable now.”

Jan Srytr of the Environmental Law Service said: “The idea that the responsibility of a state’s decisions extends beyond its borders is not a new concept. However, by accepting this responsibility in relation to impacts of climate change – especially in the context of a specific project– creates a new legal precedent.”

The legal intervention centres around FSM’s request for a transboundary environmental impact assessment (TEIA) of a proposed expansion and life-extension of the Prunér(ov II brown coal-fired power plant. Although TEIA’s are often triggered by neighbouring states based on physical pollution concerns, this was the first ever use of a ‘transregional’ impact assessment concerning climate change. FSM’s pioneering challenge provides a new legal hook for other threatened island nations to call major polluters to account.

In April 2011, the Czech Ministry of Environment issued a positive environmental impact statement that cleared the way for the construction of the Prunér(ov II brown coal-fired power plant. However, FSM was recognized by the Czech Ministry as an “affected state” and required CEZ Group to provide a compensation plan that would offset the additional CO_2 emissions. This was clear recognition of the objections to the project’s insufficient energy efficiency measures, raised by FSM and other participants.

ENDS

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