Selin Co-Authors Article on Emissions from International Shipping

[Updated April 8, 2021] Henrik Selin, Associate Professor of International Relations and Associate Dean for Studies at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, co-authored an article in IOP Science‘s Environmental Research Letters on the national allocation of CO2 emissions from international shipping.

The article, titled “Mitigation of CO2 emissions from international shipping through national allocation,” was written by Yiqi Zhang, Division of Environment and Sustainability, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Rebecca Dunn, Global Development Policy Center (GDP Center), Boston University; Noelle Selin, Institute for Data, Systems, and Society and Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Alexis K H Lau, Division of Environment and Sustainability, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The article explores the extent to which the global maritime shipping industry contributes to CO2 emissions and the increasing threat they post to worsening global climate change. These emissions are controlled by neither international treaties nor domestic policies, but they must be addressed. The authors analyze five different options to allocate these emissions to countries in order to enhance mitigation to meet climate goals and offer suggestions for how to effectively reel in emissions form the maritime shipping industry.

From the extract:

Neither international treaties nor domestic policies control carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from international shipping. To enhance mitigation, a new multilateral mechanism could allocate these emissions to national carbon budgets, where different options could be used based on the location of industry actors and ships. We analyze five allocation options, showing that a clear majority of CO2 emissions would be distributed to ten countries under each option; however, the top ten countries vary across allocation options and the amount of CO2 emissions allotted to individual countries could increase their carbon budgets thousand-fold or more. We further examine how the different objectives, principles for decision-making, and geographical coverage of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Maritime Organization influence the design and implementation of an allocation mechanism under each of these two bodies. We find that the allocation mechanism that best meets criteria related to effectiveness and equity would be one in which emissions are assigned to countries of ship owners, and which operates under the UNFCCC.

The full article can be read on IOP Science‘s website. A video abstract can also be viewed below. For a detailed breakdown of the research, visit the Global Development Policy Center’s (GDP Center) website

Henrik Selin has been at Boston University since 2004 and his research and teaching focuses on global and regional politics and policy making on environment and sustainable development. He is the author of EU and Environmental Governance and Global Governance of Hazardous Chemicals: Challenges of Multilevel Management. He is also the author and co-author of more than four dozen peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He also serves as Associate Editor for the journal Global Environmental Politics. Learn more about Professor Selin on his faculty profile.