Wealthy Nations Must Cut Emissions Quicker Than Developing Peers

24th June 2024

Wealthy states must accelerate emission cuts, court rules in climate justice milestone. The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has issued an advisory opinion asserting that wealthy states must reduce their emissions more rapidly than their developing counterparts, marking a significant step for climate justice. Advocacy groups celebrate this "landmark opinion" as it strengthens the legal framework for addressing climate change impacts on the marine environment and is expected to clarify international law in the context of the law of the sea.

Wealthy Nations Must Cut Emissions Quicker Than Developing Peers

The tribunal concluded that "anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere" constitute pollution of the marine environment. State parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are therefore obligated to "take all necessary measures to prevent, reduce, and control marine pollution from anthropogenic GHG emissions."

In its unanimous opinion, the tribunal highlighted that oceans are warming and becoming more acidic due to carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. This results in harm to marine life, hazards to human health, and disruption of marine activities such as fishing. The Tribunal also mandated that state parties must "take all measures necessary to ensure that anthropogenic GHG emissions under their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage by pollution to other states and their environment," and to prevent such pollution from spreading beyond their own sovereign areas.

Furthermore, the tribunal emphasized the need for wealthy states to assist developing nations, particularly vulnerable ones, in addressing marine pollution from anthropogenic GHG emissions. The obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment is broad, encompassing "any type of harm or threat to the marine environment," according to ITLOS. This includes taking measures to restore degraded marine habitats and ecosystems due to climate change impacts and ocean acidification.

Wealthy countries like the UK, Australia, and EU member states argued that climate change is already being addressed at the international level through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which led to the Paris Agreement in 2015. Under this agreement, countries set their own climate targets without an international enforcement mechanism. However, the tribunal declared that the Paris Agreement alone is insufficient; the law of the sea imposes specific legal obligations on states, with consequences for non-compliance.

#protea #emissions #monitoring #cems #ftir #gas #analysers #shipping #marine #carbon #capture