Climate Change and the Oceans

Climate Change and the Oceans

Gauging the Legal and Policy Currents in the Asia Pacific and Beyond

Edited by Robin Warner and Clive Schofield

Climate Change and the Oceans investigates the effects of climate change on the ocean environment and its implications for maritime activities, both globally and within the Asia Pacific region.

Chapter 9: Climate change and shipping

Stathis Palassis

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, environmental sociology, law - academic, environmental law, maritime law


The reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the stabilization of global climate is one of the greatest international challenges. The task is enormous as States transform their carbon-based economies into a low-carbon sustainable global economy. Despite the apparent difficulties involved, the longer action is delayed, the more difficult the challenge becomes. The greenhouse challenge captures all aspects of the energy, industry and transport sectors, including the reduction of GHG emissions from the international shipping sector. In 2007 international shipping is estimated to have contributed around 2.7 per cent of the total global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (IMO 2011a). International shipping underpins the global economy and is the most cost-effective and environmentally efficient of all forms of transport (IMO 2005). However, as significant growth in commercial shipping is expected in response to increased international trade, ship-source pollution is expected to rise dramatically. It thus becomes imperative that the international shipping sector take steps to minimize its GHG emissions. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been actively considering the development of rules for the reduction of the GHG emissions of international shipping as part of the larger task of reducing ship-sourced air pollution. Despite having successfully regulated some ship-sourced air pollutants, reaching consensus within the Organization on the regulation of the sector’s GHG emissions has been difficult. The IMO is promoting a global approach to all its initiatives, including the reduction of GHG emissions, while developing States have been seeking differentiated responsibility over the reduction of their GHG emissions.

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