Abstract

Considering the fact that its existence is abundant while maintaining the ability to generate freshwater while burning, methane hydrates have been classified as sources of sustainable energy. China currently maintains an international role in developing technology meant to explore offshore methane hydrates buried under the mud of the seabed, their primary laboratory being the South China Sea.However, such a process does not come without its hazards and fatal consequences ranging from the destruction of the flora and fauna, the general environment, and – the greatest hazard of all – the cost of human life. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (hereinafter ‘UNCLOS’), being an important international legal regime and instrument, has assigned damage control during the exploration of methane hydrates as being the responsibilities, and liability, of individual sovereign states and corporations. China adopted the Deep Seabed Mining Law (hereinafter the DSMLaw) on 26 February 2016, which came into force on the 1 of May 2016, a regulation providing the legal framework also for the Chinese government’s role in methane hydrate exploratory activities. This article examines the role of the DSM Law and its provisions, as well as several international documents intended to prevent transboundary environmental harm from arising as a result of offshore methane hydrate extraction. Despite the obvious risk of harm to the environment as a result of such activities, the DSM Law has made great strides in regulating exploratory activities so as to meet the criteria of the UNCLOS. However, this article argues that neither the UNCLOS nor the DSM Law are adequately prepared to address transboundary harm triggered by the exploitation of offshore methane hydrates. In particular, the technology of such extractionis still at an experimental stage, and potential risks remain uncertain – and even untraceable - for cross-jurisdictional claims. The article intends to seek available legal instruments, or models, to overhaul the incapacity within the current governing framework, and offers suggestions supporting national and international legislative efforts towards protecting the environment during methane hydrate extraction.
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Summary

Considering the fact that its existence is abundant while maintaining the ability to generate freshwater while burning, methane hydrates have been classified as sources of sustainable energy. China currently maintains an international role in developing technology meant to explore offshore methane hydrates buried under the mud of the seabed, their primary laboratory being the South China Sea.However, such a process does not come without its hazards and fatal consequences ranging from the destruction of the flora and fauna, the general environment, and – the greatest hazard of all – the cost of human life. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (hereinafter ‘UNCLOS’), being an important international legal regime and instrument, has assigned damage control during the exploration of methane hydrates as being the responsibilities, and liability, of individual sovereign states and corporations. China adopted the Deep Seabed Mining Law (hereinafter the DSMLaw) on 26 February 2016, which came into force on the 1 of May 2016, a regulation providing the legal framework also for the Chinese government’s role in methane hydrate exploratory activities. This article examines the role of the DSM Law and its provisions, as well as several international documents intended to prevent transboundary environmental harm from arising as a result of offshore methane hydrate extraction. Despite the obvious risk of harm to the environment as a result of such activities, the DSM Law has made great strides in regulating exploratory activities so as to meet the criteria of the UNCLOS. However, this article argues that neither the UNCLOS nor the DSM Law are adequately prepared to address transboundary harm triggered by the exploitation of offshore methane hydrates. In particular, the technology of such extractionis still at an experimental stage, and potential risks remain uncertain – and even untraceable - for cross-jurisdictional claims. The article intends to seek available legal instruments, or models, to overhaul the incapacity within the current governing framework, and offers suggestions supporting national and international legislative efforts towards protecting the environment during methane hydrate extraction.

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The growth in green energy investments worldwide is an important reality and rising trends are to be expected in the future. When designing the proper policy agenda for renewable energy investments, we must take into consideration the legal, regulatory and political frameworks in both developing and developed countries. gLAWcal aims at analyzing national approaches on the matter, combining scientific, social and economic considerations. At the same time, it wishes to develop partnerships among European and non-European institutions, so as to deliver an integrated approach on sustainable energy investments, combining global and local perspectives.
The need to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders or the resort to practices which unreasonably restrain trade or adversely affect the international transfer of technology are topical issues that affects international relations. It is crucial for developing countries to achieve a substantive degree of IPR protection, not only for the promotion of creativity and innovation, but also for the maximization of technology transfer from developed countries. gLAWcal examines IPR regimes and their impact on competition with the objective of providing a better understanding of the competition-dimension of IP rights. Intellectual property rights are also extremely crucial to sustainable development in manifold ways, from the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural products, to access to essential medicines. Our organization focuses on the policy frameworks and institutions shaping debate and policy development in this sector.
In the last fifteen years, all around the world there has been a tendency to put much hope in the rise of civil society, its emergence being welcomed as a sign of progress towards a more democratic system. Many places in the world are today laboratories for change thanks to bottom-up movements supported by civil society organizations. By looking at contentious politics and how they converge and interact with institutional politics, we can better understand what directions a country’s political system and its governance is taking. gLAWcal supports collective forms of actions aimed at the creation of better societies, on many social issues, and in various geographical areas.
Improvements in people’s economic wellbeing have increased citizen demands for a cleaner environment. As societies undergo the transition to industrial development and modernity, their citizens begin to concern themselves with needs and wants beyond the material, including the protection of the environment. However, growing levels of environmental consciousness and awareness are often not matched by proper environmental legislation enforcement at the local level. gLAWcal looks at environmental rights developments in developing countries, and aims at delivering policy advices and capacity building support in areas where law implementation is lacking. With this purpose, our organization seeks to improve environmental protection not only for the benefit of the populations directly affected, but also for the sake of the entire planet.
Globalization, and the consequent international exchange of goods, services, cultures, ideas, has brought increased wealth for many on the one hand, while exerting pressure on core societal values both in developed and developing countries on the other hand. Public opinion and policy makers have warned against the threat posed by international trade and liberalization to policies and measures meant to protect the so-called non-trade concerns (NTC), such as environmental protection, sustainable development, good governance, cultural rights, labour rights, public health, social welfare, national security, food safety, access to knowledge, consumer interests and animal welfare.When trying to protect these issues, developed countries have put into place trade measures that have encountered resistance or dissent in developing countries, being perceived as protectionist actions or as an attempt by the importing countries to impose their social, ethical and cultural values on exporting countries.The challenge of integrating Non-Trade Concerns embodies the willingness to overcome national egoisms and embrace universally a number of fundamental values, creating an ethical and juridical platform to win over cultural differences and issues of national sovereignty. gLAWcal’s research aims at identifying ways to protect NTC within international economic law. By shedding new light on developing countries’ trends towards inclusion of NTC in the domestic and international arena, gLAWcal provides a comprehensive perspective on law enforcement, creating a bridge between the international and the domestic realities.

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