DLA Piper advises on ‘landmark climate ruling’

DLA Piper has advised the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in obtaining a “landmark climate ruling” from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which found governments have a stringent duty of due diligence and responsibility to regulate activities emitting greenhouse gases.

The global law firm advised pro bono, with Partner and Head of Energy Sector – Asia Pacific Stephen Webb noting the ruling found states have obligations to prevent, reduce, and control anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and their adverse effects on the marine environment.

“The ruling lends weight to the concerns of nations which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and provides them a legal footing to demand greater climate action,” Webb says.

DLA Piper says the tribunal’s ruling further affirms that developed states have legally binding obligations to support developing states in terms of capacity building, scientific expertise, technology transfer, and financing.

DLA Piper Partner Gitanjali Bajaj says the ruling was a world-first and will be followed by the more significant advisory opinion currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“While smaller states may struggle to have their voices heard at the climate negotiating tables, targeted litigation to spur both political and legal change from larger, high-emitter States can help level the playing field,” Bajaj says.

“This importance of this matter cannot be understated. Sustainability is a key pillar in our business strategy, and we were honoured to be entrusted with this matter by the government of Timor-Leste.”

Elizabeth Exposto, CEO of the Land & Maritime Boundary Office and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, says Timor-Leste was proud its role in the ITLOS proceedings had a multiplier effect, “encouraging greater access to justice for small island developing states and least developed countries on climate change”.

DLA Piper has continued to support SIDS in making an impact in international climate legal proceedings advising the governments of Timor-Leste, Tonga, and Solomon Islands pro bono in separate submissions in the upcoming ICJ climate change advisory opinion.

The United Nations General Assembly, by consensus, has requested the ICJ provide an advisory opinion on the obligations of states under international law to protect the climate system from the adverse effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions for states and for present and future generations.

The ICJ has also been asked to consider the legal consequences for states that have caused significant harm to the climate.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: Forrestania & DLA Piper
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.