Regulation of ship-sourced carbon dioxide emissions: The creation of economic instruments

Edward Elgar Publishing
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Market Instruments and the Protection of Natural Resources, 2016, pp. 173 - 191
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The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the stabilization of global climate is the greatest challenge we have ever faced. It has become imperative that we safely arrest global warming and thereby stabilize global weather patterns. As we move towards a position in international climate change law of all states becoming responsible for the reduction of their climate change emissions, so must the member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In 1997 the IMO adopted the document ‘CO2 Emissions from Ships’, recognizing carbon dioxide as the principal greenhouse gas emitted by the international shipping sector and the need for the sector to reduce its emissions. In 2003 the IMO adopted the document ‘IMO Policies and Practices related to the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships’, leading the Organization to adopt Resolution A963.23 directing that three types of measures be adopted for the reduction of the international shipping sector’s carbon dioxide emissions: technical, operational and market-based. To date the IMO has successfully adopted technical and operational measures; however the adoption of market-based measures has proven much more difficult, leading the IMO to discontinue its work on market-based economic instruments. The subject of this article is the significant obstacles surrounding the distinction drawn between developed and developing states and the major rift that has emerged in the IMO. This division has compromised the ability of the IMO to finalize its work in the area of market-based measures. As a result the Organization has been unable to adopt the economic instruments required concerning the reduction of the carbon dioxide emissions of the international shipping sector. The purpose of this article is to examine the problematic distinction between developed and developing states and the difficulties that this poses in the application of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) to the economic instruments under consideration by the IMO. The article will commence by discussing the international climate change law principle of CBDRRC that seeks to differentiate between the responsibilities owed by developed and developing states. It will highlight both the unsettled aims and content of the principle as well as the problematic distinction that is made between developed and developing states. The article will then discuss the international law concerning the nationality and registration of ships. It will highlight how the registration of ships in open registries distorts the distinction between developed and developing states. The article will then make critical submissions on the major difficulties that exist for the IMO in adopting appropriate economic instruments, owing in large to the dated and no longer adequate distinctions between developed and developing states.
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