Governance and Law of Climate Change, Oceans & Cryosphere in the Polar Systems


Content, progress and pedagogy of the module

The course enable the students approaching for the first time the protection of oceans and cryosphere in international law and EU Law in the Polar Systems (Arctic and Antarctic) to understand deeply the legal and governance responses of climate change’s impacts on oceans and cryosphere. At the same time, the course offers the students the possibility to specialize in several areas or sectors. The course is divided in two parts: thegeneral part I, and thespecific and sectorial part II. Thegeneral part I treats the subjects, sources, general principles, for the protection of the oceans and coasts and the role of key institutions (official and non-official actors) in their capacity to elaborate law and policies to adapt and to mitigate to climate change’s impacts on oceans and cryosphere. Institutes that will be considered will be for example, the Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, or the Antarctic Treaty System, the Scientific Committee on the Antarctic Research, the International Association of Tour Operator and the European Union. This part will include the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the interception of science, law and policy and the way this institute contributes to assess the science dealing with the capacity to adapt and mitigate. The specific and sectorial part II, will focus on the legal, institutional and policy responses to the impacts and risks of climate change from International Cooperation at sectorial level and will consider sectors and activities such as marine transportation and shipping, commercial fisheries, non-renewable and extractive industries, infrastructures, tourism, and impact of maritime future claims related to new interests from both from polar and non-polar states  (i.e. Asian countries).

Learning objectives


General part l

  • The nexus between climate law and ocean law in the Polar Systems
  • The role of the main institutes in their capacity to respond to climate change’s impacts
  • What is happening in the Polar systems that is important for law and governance?
  • What are the sources of hard law and soft law applicable?
  • What is the role of the IPCC and how does it contributes to the science, law and policy nexus?


Specific and sectorial part ll

  • What are the responses in governance and law at sectorial level and are they effective enough?
  • Shipping: the role of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Polar Code
  • Commercial Fisheries: Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), the role of UNCLOS, Ecosystem Management Approaches and Marine Spatial Planning
  • Non-renewable extractive industries: the case of Greenland, the Role of the Arctic Council, and the EU offshore security directive
  • Infrastructures: how to avoid climate change’s impacts, engineering, land use, planning issues of relocation (Alaska and Russia), permafrost and methane accelerating global warming?


  • The climate and ocean legal terminology and concepts related to the climate and ocean nexus
  • How to identify human rights and environmental interconnections in the Polar Systems
  • How to both get an overview and use of the relevant sources of hard law and soft law applicable to cross-cutting topics and problems at the intersection of science, law and policy


  • Contextualize the law in a multilevel dimension (international, regional, national and local) and compare the different sources of law and policy from the different levels in order to solve legal and policy problems related to the new nexus between climate and oceans in the Polar Systems
  • Develop the capacity of legal and governance analysis in cross-sectorial issues
  • Analyze and use case law linking human rights and environmental problems in the Polar systems
  • Advise in a professional way on the environmental climate and ocean law applicable in the Polar regions to international and regional complex problems at governmental, business and public level

Type of instruction

  • Lectures

Extent and expected workload

  • 270 hours



Name of examGovernance and Law of Climate Change, Oceans & Cryosphere in the Polar Systems
Type of exam
Oral exam
20 minutes exam
Permitted aids
Without aids
Assessment7-point grading scale
Type of gradingExternal examination
Criteria of assessmentThe criteria of assessment are stated in the Examination Policies and Procedures

Facts about the module

Danish titleKlimaændringer og energilovgivning
Module codeKA-JU-13-S58
Module typeCourse
Duration1 semester
SemesterSpring and Autumn
Language of instructionEnglish
Empty-place SchemeYes
Location of the lectureCampus Aalborg
Responsible for the module


Education ownerLL.M. (Master of Laws)
Study BoardStudy Board of Law
DepartmentDepartment of Law
FacultyFaculty of Social Sciences and Humanities


OBS litteratur er først endelig 3 uger før semesterstart!

  • “Diplomacy on Ice – Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic”, edited by Rebecca Picus and Saleem H. Ali, Yale University Press, 2015 (book is available as an e-book);
  • IPCC  “Special Report on Ocean an Cryosphere in a Changing Climate”, United Nations – UNEP, Chapter 1 “Framing and Context”; and Chapter 3 “Polar Regions”
  • Other material, such as, article, policy papers, legislations, policy documents, YouTube links and reports to be uploaded on Moodle.