ACCEL Presents: Ocean Acidification: A litmus test for international law

30 September 2009

Ocean Acidification: A litmus test for international law

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Speaker: Dr Tim Stephens, Sydney Law School

Commentator: Professor Gillian Triggs, Sydney Law School

About the Presentation

The world's oceans are a major carbon sink, absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which dissolves forming carbonic acid that disrupts processes of calcification utilised by many marine organisms, most notably corals. Despite the seriousness of this problem it is poorly addressed by existing international law. Although falling within not only the climate change regime but also marine environmental protection regimes the problem is not clearly and effectively embraced by either.

This is of particular concern for Australia which has one of the most significant stakes in addressing the problem (as seen most obviously in the threat the process poses to the Great Barrier Reef). By reference to the negotiating history for the relevant instruments and subsequent state practice, this paper seeks to understand how one of the most significant global environmental challenges has so far avoided international regulation. Drawing on analyses that have examined the challenges associated with regulating other cross-cutting global environmental problems where there exists a 'regime complex' of partially-overlapping and non-hierarchical international legal regimes, it also offers some preliminary thoughts in terms of strengthening and harmonising the climate and pollution regimes to address the ocean acidification phenomenon.

About the Speaker

Dr Tim Stephens is an international lawyer and human geographer. He has published widely on issues of public international law, national and international environmental law and the law of the sea. He is Co-Editor in Chief of the Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law.

Dr Stephens holds a PhD in law from the University of Sydney, and a M.Phil in geography from the University of Cambridge. Dr Stephens is admitted as a legal practitioner in New South Wales, and previously worked as a judge's associate, and as a solicitor in a leading commercial law firm.

Dr Stephens is a regular media commentator in Australia and internationally on issues of international law and environmental law.

Time: 6.00-7.00pm (registration and refreshments from 5.30pm)

Location: Sydney Law School

Cost: Full Fee: $66.00 (inc GST). Students and University of Sydney Staff: Free (ID required)

Contact: Event Coordinator

Phone: 9351 0238

Email: 01583f641c2750005f4215240434086d26103b4d153d