Arranging Deckchairs on the Titanic:Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and International Shipping

Jodie Kathleen Moffat


In 1988 the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess ‘the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. Subsequently, in 1992, the United Nations (UN) proposed a framework for dealing with climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). UNFCCC divides UN member states into developed (Annex I) and developing (non-Annex I) nations. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol (KP) was agreed as a practical attempt to put the aspirations of UNFCCC into effect. GHG emissions reduction targets were only set for Annex I nations under the UNFCCC concept of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’; this precludes allocation of national ownership of GHG emissions from activities of an international character, specifically international shipping and aviation. Article 2(2) of KP (KP2(2)) assigns responsibility for these to Annex I nations through the international the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In this paper, I have endeavored to reconcile the implications of GHG emissions, climate change and international shipping with IMO’s mandate under KP.


greenhouse gas emissions; climate change

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