Edited by Rafael Leal-Arcas and Jan Wouters
Chapter 16: Energy and the law of the sea
The zonal entitlements and functional rights and obligations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) govern access to offshore energy resources and transit of energy resources via international shipping. Ongoing technological developments are deepening the nexus between the oceans and energy, placing increased pressure on the law of the sea in the management of overlapping activities and the resolution of disputes. These developments include: increasing energy-related pollution, in the forms of oil pollution, inadequate disposal or abandonment of offshore platforms and greenhouse gases from international shipping; the deployment of marine renewable energy installations; the discovery of previously unknown resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone, continental shelf and Area; and efforts to exploit the energy resources of the Arctic. In addition, energy considerations constitute a significant feature of ongoing disputes over maritime territory, such as in the Eastern Mediterranean. UNCLOS offers a robust frame for regulating these novel conditions. The European Union has an important role to play as a policy innovator and leading contributor to the development of international oceans law.
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