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Despite the predicted and already felt consequences of climate change, our dependence on fossil fuels shows no signs of wavering. According to the Climate Transparency’s Brown to Green Report 2018, 15 of the G20 nations reported a rise in emissions in 2017. In order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, large-scale extraction of carbon dioxide (CO2) seems imperative. This was acknowledged by the IPCC in its Fifth Assessment Report (2014), where the Synthesis Report contained a brief discussion of the present and potential future role and limitations of geoengineering technologies.
Our oceans are suffering under the impacts of climate change. Despite the critical role that oceans play in climate regulation, international climate law and the law of the sea are developed as two different, largely separate, legal regimes. The main objective of this book is to assess how the law of the sea can be interpreted, developed and applied to support the objectives of the United Nations Climate Regime. By identifying the potential and constraints of the law of the sea regime in supporting and complementing the climate regime in the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, this book offers a new perspective on the law of the sea and its capacity to evolve to respond to systemic challenges, and its potential to adapt and ensure a resilient and sustainable future.
Climate change has already had severe impacts on the world’s oceans; moreover, threats such as rising water temperatures and ocean acidification seem set to increase. Effective regulatory responses are urgently needed to mitigate these adverse effects – or at least to adapt. And yet, ‘ntil recently, climate change was seen as an “over the horizon” challenge for the law of the sea’, as Tim Stephens has pointed out, criticizing responses thus far as a ‘wait and see approach’. Against this background, the contributions to this volume have assessed how the Law of the Sea Regime can be interpreted, applied and where necessary developed to support the objectives of the UN Climate Regime.
Our oceans are already suffering under the impacts of climate change. The 2019 Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the Ocean and Cryosphere paints a troubling picture of the status and prospects of the world’s ice and oceans. The earth’s climate and the state of the oceans are interdependent. The oceans play a fundamental role in our climate system, through the uptake and redistribution of anthropogenic CO2 and heat, as well as their crucial involvement in the hydrological cycle.