Bangladesh’s foreign secretary called the resolution’s passage a “defining moment” that can help bridge the gap between climate finance promises made to vulnerable countries and what is delivered.

“Despite better needs for financing, we see growing expenditure in military budgets or armaments of funding wars and conflicts or even bailing out companies during a financial crisis,” he said. “We hope this resolution and consequent advisory opinion will provide a better understanding of the legal implications of climate change under international law.”

The resulting advisory opinion could be a vital input to the burgeoning climate-driven lawsuits around the world. There are upwards of 2,000 cases pending worldwide.

“A decision from the ICJ could be very influential with courts around the world that are faced with the growing number of climate change cases,” said Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

Other international courts and tribunals are also being asked to clarify and define the law around climate obligations, including the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

The Pacific island law students celebrated the vote, four years after they suggested an ICJ resolution to Vanuatu officials.

“We are just ecstatic that the world has listened to the Pacific Youth and has chosen to take action” on the idea that “started in a Pacific classroom four years ago,” said Cynthia Houniuhi, Solomon Islands based President of Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change.

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