Legal Aspects

While the international law of the sea and related national law regulate many issues related to the use of the ocean for various purposes, including pollution prevention and mitigation, innovative ocean technologies that are intended to contribute to climate change mitigation and may therefore become relevant in the context of decarbonization remain unresolved and unclear, e.g. artificial upwelling or alkalinity enhancement. As the debate on „ocean fertilization“ has shown, law is often perceived as a limiting rather than an enabling factor (Güssow, 2009). Current legal frameworks and recognized binding legal principles, such as the no-harm rule or the precautionary principle, do not seem adequate to address marine CDR interventions that would currently potentially qualify as pollution. Other methods, such as vertical water movement, are not covered by legal regimes. In the absence of a holistic legal approach to marine CDR, the first step must be an analysis of existing international and national law related to various technologies. This will form the basis for recommendations of adapted legal regulations with regard to necessary further research activities and, depending on the outcome, to a possible large-scale deployment of certain CDR technologies.

The ASMASYS project has a subproject dedicated to the legal framework of various technologies and new uses of the ocean that can serve to counteract climate change. This includes questions of the applicability of legal regulations, the identification of regulatory gaps as well as the development of proposals for legal changes of different levels—global, regional and national. These play an important role for the evaluation of potential CDR – options both for the current phase and for a planned follow-up phase in which field experiments may also be considered.


Güssow, K., Oschlies, A., Proelss, A., Rehdanz, K.,& Rickels, W, (2009), Kiel Working Paper, No. 1574, Kiel IfW.