19 February 2021: CIL Director Dr Nilüfer Oral Was Invited By Lauterpacht Centre For International Law To Give a Lecture On ‘Climate Change and The Law of the Sea: A Test For International Law’
Recent scientific information presents an alarming diagnosis of the multiple adverse consequences of climate change on the ocean: levels of ocean acidification not seen in millions of years, changes in ocean chemistry, warming temperatures and deoxygenation threating marine life, in particular coral reefs; and rapidly melting glaciers and ice sheets challenging the survival of some island States and threatening existing maritime boundaries and entitlements.
There are two different applicable international regimes, one for the ocean and the other for climate change. Yet neither has a clear mandate for the ocean-climate nexus. The 1982 United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea, often referred to as the Constitution for the oceans, negotiated before climate change emerged on the international agenda, makes no reference to climate change. The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with a clear mandate for atmospheric climate change, limits the role of the ocean to serving as sink or reservoir for greenhouse gases. The 2015 Paris Agreement added little more other than a preambular reference to ocean ecosystems.
The lecture delivered by Dr Oral examined how these two principal legal regimes can meet the test for international law in providing a dialectic and evolutive response to the pressing challenges of the climate-ocean nexus.
A copy of the presentation can be assessed at the link: https://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.law.cam.ac.uk/files/images/www.lcil.law.cam.ac.uk/Image/events/nilufer_oral_presentation_190221.pdf
A recording of the lecture is available at: https://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/friday-lunchtime-lecture-series-recordings