The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ralph Reganvanu, told world leaders during the COP24 High-Level Segment (HLS) in Poland that Vanuatu will hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the effects of climate change.

The HLS opening is usually held in the second week of COP to hear statements from ministers and heads of delegation.

Vanuatu’s statement was delivered by Minister Regenvanu.

Minister Regenvanu argued in his statement that fossil fuel companies should pay for the climate change loss and damage which they helped create.

He stressed that “the dirty energy revenues” generated by corporations from fossil fuels that contributes largely to global green gas emissions could be used for alleviating and avoiding suffering caused by climate impacts in developing countries.

Earlier this year, Minister Regenvanu made a call for the global establishment of Climate Damages Taxes.

A carbon tax of a low initial rate of 5 dollars per ton of CO2-equivalent traded, increasing annually, could generate revenue for loss and damage at roughly 300 billion a year by 2050, according to Minister Regenvanu.

“Climate damages taxes are a win-win option for developed and developing countries alike because the finance does not derive from public treasuries and would support the financial mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – it is new source of climate finance which makes the companies and the products which caused climate change, pay for it.

Minister Regenvanu declared Vanuatu’s intention about taking fossil fuel companies to court over climate change.

He said: “Last month, we (Vanuatu) announced our intention to explore all avenues to utilize the judicial system in various jurisdictions-including international law-to shift the costs of climate protection back onto the fossil fuel companies, the financial institutions and the governments that actively and knowingly created this existential threat to my country.

“The attribution science connecting the fossil fuel industry’s actions to climate effects is strong.

“It is clear that the industry has known about the harms of climate change decades ago, as early as the 1960s, even making business contingency planning around rising seas and other impacts.

“And yet they (and colluding governments) continue to engage in campaigns to try to mislead the public about climate change facts.

“Misrepresenting or covering up facts on climate change isn’t just killing people; it may well bring about the end of our civilization.

“Vanuatu will not allow this to go unchallenged, and we are exploring domestic and international mechanisms of reparation.

“We know we are on the right side of history here, and will win”.