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Micronesia in legal challenge to emissions

PALIKIR, Micronesia, May 24 (UPI) -- The Pacific island state of Micronesia says it has begun a legal challenge to plans to expand a coal-fired power plant in the Czech Republic, 3,700 miles away.

Low-lying Micronesia is at risk from rising sea levels and claims potential environmental damage from greenhouse gas emissions and resultant global warming threatens the archipelago's survival, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

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Experts in international law said the case could set a new precedent as countries more at risk from climate change take action against major carbon emitting countries.

If the expansion of the Prunerov II plant goes forward, it will become one of Europe's largest coal-fired power stations and the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Czech Republic.

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The 600 islands of the Micronesia chain in the western Pacific already suffer regular flooding, extreme weather events and destructive tidal surges as a result of rising sea levels and the warming oceans, its government says.

Any major new coal-fired project would further threaten the future of the nation, it says.

"The very real impacts of climate change are happening on our disappearing shores," said Maketo Robert, Secretary of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federated States of Micronesia.

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"This legal tool demonstrates that nations on the front line of climate change are now supported by, and must prepare to invoke, the international law in making meaningful and more effective inputs into energy decisions."

Many areas of Micronesia, including at least one of the nation's four international airports, lie little more than 3 feet above sea level.

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