UNGA Resolution: Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change, Statement by Germany, 29 March 2023

Core Group for UNGA Resolution ICJAP for Climate

Core Group for UNGA Resolution ICJAP for Climate, © German Mission to UN, NY

29.03.2023 - Speech

Statement delivered by Ambassador Leendertse, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations.

Mr. President,

What a historic and hopeful moment for multilateralism and climate action. After a long process, today, the UN General Assembly has adopted this resolution to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice — by consensus.

Germany aligns itself with the statement by Vanuatu on behalf of the core group as well as the statement by the European Union and would like to add the following remarks in its national capacity:

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, posing a grave threat to humanity as a whole and an existential threat to the most vulnerable. Sea-level rise, for instance, threatens to render low-lying island nations uninhabitable, while more frequent and severe extreme weather events and other impacts have already resulted in immense suffering throughout the world. While the international community has recognized the urgency of the climate crisis, our progress to date has fallen far short of achieving the level of climate action necessary to prevent environmental catastrophes. Germany takes this challenge very seriously. In the Federal Climate Change Act, Germany committed to achieving greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. Also, emissions must be reduced by at least 65% by 2030 (from 1990) and by at least 88% by 2040.

Germany is a proud member of the Core Group leading the initiative to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice to clarify the rights and obligations of states under international law in relation to the adverse effects of climate change. We trust that seeking an advisory opinion is a constructive route to addressing the climate crisis and to shape state conduct as it pertains to dealing with climate change. This trust is based on the firm belief in the crucial contribution that the Court, when asked to give its Advisory Option, can make to clarify the extent and status of relevant obligations under international law with regard to all States.

Given the urgency of climate action that keeps a warming limit of 1.5°C within reach, we share Vanuatu’s intention to “provide legal motivation for all nations, including emerging and high emitting developing countries, to build greater ambition into their Paris Agreement Nationally Determined Contributions, and take meaningful action to curb emissions and protect human rights”. Germany hopes that this initiative will contribute to further strengthen international cooperation, which is key for achieving the Paris Agreement’s objectives. Such cooperation is possible even in politically sensitive areas, as the Global Shield against Climate Risks, jointly initiated by the V20 and the G7, has shown.

Vanuatu has our full recognition for bringing together a representative Core Group encompassing different perspectives and interests. Vanuatu is to be commended for steering a process that allowed us today to adopt this critical initiative by consensus. In this process, Germany’s goal was a formulation of the operative paragraphs and the questions submitted to the Court that is future-oriented and clearly addresses current obligations of all states on the basis of the current state of the law with regard to the future development of climate change. Whilst the Resolution does not limit the Court in its analysis, especially with regard to the time horizon, we believe that the Core Group could have gone further in this respect in order to make the initiative even stronger in its potential to promote climate action. At the same time, we recognize the enormous success reflected in the number of co-sponsors and reiterate our trust in the Court’s deliberations.

Mr. President,

the adoption of this resolution by consensus is a strong and unequivocal message underlining our collective preparedness to address climate change. It attests convincingly to our commitment to the values of multilateralism.

Top of page