Ocean Acidification

RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON INTERNATIONAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, R. Rayfuse, ed., Edward Elgar, 2015

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/72

19 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2013 Last revised: 31 Mar 2016

See all articles by Tim Stephens

Tim Stephens

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 15, 2013

Abstract

Ocean acidification, the changing chemistry of the oceans as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, is likely to transform many aspects of the global marine environment by mid century, with severe impacts expected for calcifying organisms. This chapter examines how ocean acidification is currently addressed in international law, and what the future may hold in store for the regulation of one of the most pressing threats to the marine environment. It is seen that ocean acidification is currently not directly addressed by any treaty regime, and is indirectly regulated by an uncoordinated assortment of environmental treaties and soft law instruments. The precautionary principle, and the desirability of setting clear sustainability goals for the oceans, suggests the need for the international community to set a single upper limit for the atmospheric concentration of CO2 to match both climate change and ocean acidification mitigation goals, as both environmental problems are symptoms of the same underlying cause – human interference with the global carbon cycle.

Keywords: International law, ocean acidification, climate change, oceans governance

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Stephens, Tim, Ocean Acidification (October 15, 2013). RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON INTERNATIONAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, R. Rayfuse, ed., Edward Elgar, 2015, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/72, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340814

Tim Stephens (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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