The United Kingdom has become the first State to formally accept the 2013 marine geoengineering amendments to the 1996 “London Protocol”, the treaty covering dumping of wastes at sea. The amendments support the precautionary approach by providing for specific marine geoengineering activities to be permitted only when the activity is assessed as constituting legitimate scientific research. Currently, only ocean fertilization for research purposes may be permitted.
Meanwhile, the marine scientific expert group GESAMP is currently undertaking a comprehensive study on marine geoengineering to better understand the potential impacts of proposed marine geoengineering techniques on the marine environment – including social and economic consequences.
The London Protocol entered into force ten years ago, modernizing the original “London Convention” dumping treaty by prohibiting all dumping at sea with the exception of wastes commonly agreed by Governments and then put on an approved list.
IMO Directors Frederick Kenney (Legal and External Relations Division) and Stefan Micallef (Marine Environment Division) welcomed Mr. Alan Beckwith, from the Treaty Section of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office, who handed over the instrument of acceptance of the amendment at IMO Headquarters, London, today (24 June).
This amendment forms an important part of a series of efforts by Contracting Parties to the London Convention and Protocol to address climate change. Already in 2006, the LP Contracting Parties took ground-breaking steps to provide a global regulatory framework for climate change mitigation, when they adopted amendments regulate carbon capture and sequestration in sub-sea geological formations. The 2006 amendments, which have entered into force for all Parties, created a legal basis in international environmental law to regulate carbon capture and storage in sub-seabed geological formations for permanent isolation.