Greenpeace’s iconic Rainbow Warrior has arrived in Cairns this week to join with First Nations leaders from the Guda Maluyligal in the Torres Strait, Uncle Paul and Uncle Pabai, plaintiffs in the Australian Climate Case who have taken the Australian government to court for failing to protect their island homes from climate change.

Uncle Paul and Uncle Pabai, alongside other inspiring climate litigants like Anjali Sharma, will join the ship as it sails to Vanuatu in solidarity with Pasifika communities who, like those in the Torres Strait, are holding governments and corporations to account after decades of inaction.

Cairns is the launchpad for the Rainbow Warrior’s tour, which sees the ship return to the Pacific as part of a global campaign to take climate harm to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the world’s highest court. After passing the United Nations General Assembly by consensus earlier this year, the historic campaign for an advisory opinion on climate now heads to The Hague where, if successful, could change the destiny of millions of people bearing the brunt of climate impacts, from rising seas, to cyclones and extreme weather events, and usher in a new wave of climate litigation globally.

Uncle Pabai Pabia said: “We come in friendship and solidarity to meet with Pacific communities and leaders. The most important part is that we engage together in sharing our experience of climate change and our cultural ways of connecting together, and that gives us strength.”

After years of inaction, the Australian Government has indicated a renewed focus on rebuilding relationships in the Pacific. Last year, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said “the entry fee for credibility in international relations [in the Pacific] in this century is action on climate change.”

The Australian government says that it will reduce emissions by 43% in 2030, but this is not enough to save our island homes in the Torres Strait and low lying communities in the Pacific. Leading climate scientists on the Climate Targets Panel calculate that Australia’s greenhouse emissions need to be reduced by 74% by 2030.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Senior Campaigner Steph Hodgins-May said: “Australia’s relationship with the Pacific is contingent on real climate action, but at a time when we should be moving rapidly away from coal, oil and gas, the government is green lighting new fossil fuel mega projects.”

“The Australian Government must act in line with the best available science to protect everyone’s island homes — a strong submission to the ICJ is a statement in support of communities in Australia and the Pacific who need urgent action to protect them from climate harm.”

Through this voyage, Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul want to build a bridge between Boigu and Saibai in the Torres Strait to Vanuatu strengthening the mutual support between communities. They hope that by working together they can help each other to increase the pressure on the Australian Government, and other countries to take climate action that will protect our communities.