AuthorAoife O'Leary
Page 444 Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
I. Introduction
Worldwide shipping (domestic and international) emits
approximately 1,000 million metric tons of carbon diox-
ide annually, which is approximately 3% of global green-
house gas emissions .1 While ships emit various greenhouse
gases, carbon dioxide ha s by far the greatest impact on the
climate. Worldwide, shipping emissions of nitrogen oxide
(NOx) are approximately nine mil lion tons of carbon diox-
ide equivalent, while methane and hydrouorocarbons are
each six million tons of carbon dioxide equiva lent.2 Inter-
national shipping alone is responsible for 2.1% of global
greenhous e gas emission s.3 e yearly carbon dioxide emis-
sions from shipping are roughly the same as the annual
Author's Note: is chapter represents the personal views of the author and does not
necessarily reect the ocial policy or position of any organization she is aliated with.
1. I M O, T IMO G G
S 2014—E S  F R 2 (2015).
2. Id.
3. Id.
carbon dioxide emissions of Texas and California com-
bined.4 Greenhouse gas emissions from international ship-
ping increased by at least 85% between 1990 and 20075
and are projected to increase between 50% and 250% by
2050.6 is means that, on a business-as-usual pathway,
total shipping emissions could reach 18% of worldwide
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.7
U.S. domestic shipping emissions in 2014 were 5.8
million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (0.08%
of U.S. domestic emissions).8 U.S. international shipping
4. H  C E A C, R
CO2  O E F S: F R  S
2008-2009, at 5 (2009).
5. I M O, S IMO G
G S 2009, at 27 tbl. 3.5 (2009).
6. D S. L  ., M M U, S
 A E   C   2°C E P.
7. Id.
8. U.S. E P A, I  U.S. G-
 G E  S: 1990-2014, at 18, 86 (2016) (EPA
Chapter 17
by Aoife O’Leary
International shipping is responsible for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Ships departing U.S. ports are
responsible for 4.8% of international shipping emissions. U.S. domestic shipping (ships travelling from one U.S.
port to another U.S. port) is responsible for only 0.08% of U.S. domestic emissions. International shipping emis-
sions are projected to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050. is means that, on a business-as-usual path-
way, total international shipping emissions could reach 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Yet, the
Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project reports for the United States do not look closely at shipping. e four
2050 scenarios in the reports all show energy demand for domestic shipping reducing by two-fths but without
much detail on how these reductions are achieved. International shipping is not considered in the reports. e
specialized United Nations body for international shipping, the International Maritime Organization, has esti-
mated that design, operational, and alternative fuel measures could reduce international shipping emissions by
75% by 2050 and that innovative technologies could achieve even further reductions. e legal issues that arise
when considering the decarbonization of shipping are mainly jurisdictional. ere are three types of authority
that countries can exercise over ships: ag (regulating ships that y the country’s ag), coastal (regulating the
ships that pass through a country’s coastal waters), and port (regulating ships that dock in that country’s ports).
is chapter concludes that the latter, regulating the ships that dock in U.S. ports (referred to as port jurisdiction
under international law), is the most appropriate for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
Page 445
emissions in that year were much greater, 47.6 million
metric tons (4.8% of international shipping emissions).9
Current measures are not enough to maxi mize the two-
fths reduction in domestic shipping emissions by 2050,
as is the aim of the Deep Deca rbonization Pathways Proj-
ect (DDPP) report for the United States.10 However, due to
the high potential for emissions reductions in the shipping
sector, if policies are enacted to encourage the uptake of
reduction measures and technologies, it is very probable
that the shipping industry could very nearly achieve this
target. Whi le there is no such target or implementing laws
in the United States, in April 2018 the International Mari-
time Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized
body for shipping, agreed to reduce greenhouse gases f rom
international shipping emissions by at least 50% by 2050,
compared to 2008 emission levels.11
Ships transport about 90% of world trade by volume12
and the shipping industry’s importance to world eco-
nomic growth was recogniz ed by the creation in 1948 of
the I MO.13 Shipping is regulated by a mixture of custom-
ary international law, international treaties, and domestic
law. For the purposes of this chapter, the most important
international laws are the United Nations Convention on
the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)14 and the International
Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships
(MAR POL, so named for MA Rine POLlution).15 While
the IMO has introduced eciency and data collection
measures (detailed below) to limit the growth of green-
house gas emissions from international shipping, there is
general consensus that these measures taken together will
not unlock the required reductions. Indeed, the estimate
of a 50%-to-250% increase in shipping emissions by 2050
takes into account exist ing IMO emissions reduction mea-
9. Id.
10. J H. W  ., P  D D  
U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 1: T R 31 (Deep
Decarbonization Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental Economics,
Inc., 2015), available at
pdf [hereinafter DDPP T R].
11. IMO, UN Body Adopts Climate Change Strategy for Shipping, http://www.ngs/Pages/06GHGinitialstrategy.aspx
(last visited May 1, 2018).
12. Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu, Foreword to I M
O, supra note 1.
13. IMO, Brief History of IMO,
Pages/Default.aspx (last visited Jan. 26, 2018).
14. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Dec. 10, 1982, 1833
U.N.T.S. 3, 21 I.L.M. 1261 [hereinafter UNCLOS].
15. International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships,
adopted November 2, 1973, as modied by the Protocol of 1978, adopted
on February 17, 1978, entered into force in 1983, 1340 U.N.T.S. 61, 17
I.L.M. 546 [hereinafter MARPOL 73/78].
sures (but not the emissions reduction target agreed in
Apri l 2018).
is chapter provides a background to shipping regu-
lation (Section II), discusses legal issues pertaining to
greenhouse gas regulation for shipping (Section III), and
explains recommended measures for the United States as
well as states and private part ies to reduce shipping emis-
sions (Section IV). roughout this chapter, U.S. domestic
shipping means ships that travel direct ly between one U.S.
port and another U.S. port (without calling at the ports
of any other country). U.S. international shipping means
all shipping departing U.S. ports for the port of any other
country. As reduction measures are discussed throughout
this chapter, the potential greenhouse gas reductions will
be quantied where possible.
II. Regulation of the Shipping Sector
Regulation of greenhouse gas emissions begins with an
understanding of the international context in which ship-
ping is regulated—regu lations adopted by the IMO under
MAR POL and the manner in which countries can regu late
shipping under UNCLOS (ag, coasta l, or port jurisdic-
tion). In the United States, the two principal laws aecting
shipping are the Jones Act and the Maritime Security Act.
e U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided
not to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from shipping,
and international measures provide for only a modest
reduction in emissions. Still, the DDPP projects that a
two-fths reduction in domestic shipping emissions could
be achieved by 2050, and the IMO believes even greater
reductions are possible. e se reductions could have sig-
nicant co-benets for both ocea ns and human health.
e IMO and MAR POL provide an international legal
framework within which greenhouse gas emission limits
for shipping can be, and have been, adopted. e IMO was
founded to improve the safety and security of shipping and
reduce pollution from ships. (Originally called the Inter-
governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or
IMCO, the name was changed in 1982 to IMO.16) e
IMO is a membership-based organization and the United
States is a member. Environmental policy is debated and
agreed to principally at the meetings of the Marine Envi-
ronment Protection Committee (MEPC), a committee of
16. IMO, supra note 13.

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