UN Resolution Should Help Nations Battered by Climate Change Disasters

Apr 3, 2023

The United Nations has approved a resolution that could force countries that emit a lot of greenhouse gasses to be held accountable. A tiny country called Vanuatu pushed for the move. It's in the South Pacific Ocean.

The UN resolution calls for a global court to give an opinion. The opinion would outline what would happen if countries do not meet their climate change promises.

Countries do not have to follow the resolution. It will carry a lot of political weight, though. The resolution can be used to influence global climate talks. It can also be used as evidence in lawsuits. Nations hit hard by climate change could sue countries that emit a lot of pollutants.

Many poorer nations have been hit by extreme weather. It has wreaked havoc on them. Scientists say the weather is due to a warming planet. Many poorer nations burn far fewer fossil fuels. They don't contribute much to climate change.

Vanuatu's prime minister called the UN’s decision a “win for climate justice.” His nation is a grouping of 80 islands. It has been hammered by storms. The leader lobbied hard for the resolution. Leaders of Pacific Island nations argued that they should receive money for the devastation they have experienced. They claim it is a human rights issue. They also want to hold high-pollution nations legally responsible. The US and China emit the most greenhouse gasses.

Vanuatu is under a state of emergency. Two rare Category 4 cyclones hit the country over 48 hours the first week of March.

Photo from Reuters.

Which phrase used in the story means “caused great damage”? (Common Core RI.5.4; RI.6.4)
a. non-binding
b. human rights
c. climate change
d. wreaked havoc
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