EDF publishes legal analysis on IMO’s climate powers

Climate, Environment, IMO, Organisations — By on June 28, 2018 at 7:45 PM

Aoife O’Leary

EDF has just published a legal analysis in conjunction with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, investigating the potential legal bases for the IMO to enact climate measures. To evaluate what policies and measures the IMO could and should implement to meet the goals set out in the Initial GHG Strategy, the analysis addresses three legal issues:  

  1. Whether the IMO has legal competence to address greenhouse gases;
  2. Whether the IMO has legal capacity to adopt measures such as: introducing a climate fund to support low carbon technologies or a carbon pricing measure  or setting up an independent body to assist with climate governance; and
  3. How the IMO may enact these measures e.g., via an amendment to an existing treaty, adoption of an entirely new treaty, or adoption of other legal instruments.

The analysis finds countries can and should adopt climate measures by amending MARPOL – specifically Annex VI, which limits air pollutants from ships.

The key message is that a new treaty is not required, even for economic measures. The climate crisis is urgent and the IMO’s Initial GHG Strategy is a good first step towards tackling it.

The IMO now has to act immediately to ensure that effective measures are put in place so that investments can be made in low and zero greenhouse gas emissions solutions at scale and international shipping’s contribution to climate change can begin to reduce. There is simply no legal reason not to do so; the only things required are effective policies and the political will to enact them.

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