Maritime Law & Policy

Antarctic and Southern Ocean Governance in the Anthropocene

Despite Antarctica’s isolation, the Anthropocene’s signature is inscribed deeply there, from the ozone hole etched in the southern sky to the cleaving of the ice shelves into the Southern Ocean. The Antarctic Treaty sought to quarantine Antarctica from the nuclear technologies that heralded the advent of the Anthropocene, and the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) is imbued with a romantic environmental ideal of Antarctica as a pristine wilderness that needs only to be left alone to be protected. But in the Anthropocene it is the global forces let loose by human hands that are transforming Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, rather than any activities there. What does this mean for our legal imaginings of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean? What might an ATS that fully understands and effectively responds to the challenges of the Anthropocene look like?

The Role and Relevance of Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement to Ocean and Coastal Management in the Anthropocene

The oceans are the most critical global buffer for human-induced climate change, absorbing excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases and large volumes of the emissions themselves. Despite this the oceans have not featured prominently in the international climate regime. This project identifies key dimensions in which coastal and ocean issues are relevant to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) pledged under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The NDC system is an integral feature of the Paris Agreement, requiring parties to show steps being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are several ways in which NDCs can be enhanced by addressing climate-related oceans issues, including by clearly linking emissions mitigation goals and ocean protection, recognising the value of marine and coastal areas as carbon sinks, including specific ocean-related emission reduction targets and policies, and the inclusion of more detailed coastal and ocean adaptation policies.