Litigating Climate Change under Part XII of the LOSC

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Alan Boyle Emeritus Professor of Public International Law, University of Edinburgh Barrister, Essex Court Chambers London UK

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Inter-state litigation is a weapon employed by weaker states with limited diplomatic leverage over their bigger, more powerful opponents. An authoritative judgment may facilitate a settlement of some kind, whether directly, by further negotiation, or simply by legitimising the claims made. The LOSC was negotiated at a time when climate change was not yet part of the international agenda; however, it must be interpreted and applied with subsequent developments in international law and policy in mind. The harmful, toxic, and persistent effects of climate change more than satisfy the test for marine pollution established by Article 1 of LOSC. Part XII applies to climate change insofar as it has or is likely to have deleterious effects on the marine environment. This article will discuss the role that Part XII of LOSC may play in enforcing states’ obligations to protect and preserve the marine environment from the effects of climate change.

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