The Role of the Law of the Sea in Climate Change Litigation

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Elise Johansen
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People around the world are turning to the courts to ensure that steps are taken to tackle climate change, using litigation as a tool to force action. An emerging trend in climate litigation is to look to other legal regimes for sources of climate obligation and there is a growing number of climate change cases looking at the relationship between human rights and climate change, and refugee law and climate change. This paper looks at the role of the law of the sea regime in climate change cases, in which some connections to ocean issues are identified – either because the activities that contribute to GHG emissions takes place in the ocean space, or because the effects are felt there. One main finding is that that the use of the law of the sea-based rights and obligations is almost non-existent in climate litigation. Another main finding, based on an analysis of one of the relevant cases, namely the Norwegian Climate Change Case, is that the general obligations established by section 1 of Part XII of the LOSC represent an untapped resource to legal obligations in climate litigation.

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