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Book Chapter
The Ocean and Climate Change Law: Exploring the Relationships
Dan Bodansky
Frontiers in International Environmental Law: Oceans and Climate Challenges: Essays in Honour of David Freestone
Richard Barnes & Ronan Long eds., Brill 2021
Open Access


Given the close physical interconnections between the ocean and climate change, should the legal regimes governing them be more closely tied? Could climate change law do more to address ocean issues and, if so, in what ways? The chapter argues that, in general, the current division of labor between climate change and ocean law makes sense: the UN climate change regime should focus on mitigating climate change, which is the most important way it can help the ocean; conversely, ocean law is better equipped to address how the ocean might adapt to the impacts of climate change. However, the chapter suggests two ways that a stronger focus by the climate change regime on ocean issues might help it both limit climate change and better protect the ocean. First, it should do more to encourage the conservation and enhancement of ocean sinks, including potentially in areas beyond national jurisdiction, if that proves legally and technically feasible. Second, it should give extra consideration to reducing co2 emissions relative to other greenhouse gases, given their role in causing ocean acidification
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