Ocean acidification: falling between the legal cracks of UNCLOS and the UNFCCC ?

Oceans have played a critical role in shielding Earth from some of the more serious impacts of climate change by absorbing approximately 30 percent of emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide. However, this has resulted in an approximate 26 percent increase in acidity of oceans since the industrial period. This not only presents the scientific challenge of addressing the problem of ocean acidification and its impacts on ocean marine life, but also presents many legal challenges. This Article will assess if the existing international legal framework provides the necessary foundation to address these legal challenges. Specifically, this Article will analyze whether two key global regimes, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, provide the necessary legal foundation to address ocean acidification. It concludes that while UNCLOS establishes the legal obligation of States to address ocean acidification, it does not by itself provide for the framework for taking the collective action needed for a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. By contrast, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regime appears to provide a better vehicle for the collective action necessary to mitigate emissions of carbon dioxide causing ocean acidification.


Oral N., 2018. Ocean acidification: falling between the legal cracks of UNCLOS and the UNFCCC ? Ecology Law Quarterly 45 (1). Article.

 

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