Carbon Capture and Sequestration

The Contracting Parties to the LC and LP have taken ground-breaking steps to mitigate the impacts of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and to ensure that new technologies with the potential to cause harm to the marine environment are effectively controlled and regulated. The LC and LP have, so far, been the most advanced international regulatory instruments addressing carbon capture and sequestration in sub-sea geological formations (CCS-SSGF) and marine geoengineering such as ocean fertilization (OF). 

In 2006, the LP Contracting Parties adopted amendments to Annex 1 of the Protocol to regulate CCS-SSGF. These amendments created a legal basis in international environmental law to regulate carbon capture and storage in sub-seabed geological formations for permanent isolation. This practice would typically apply to large point sources of CO2 emissions, including power plants and cement works, but excludes the use of such CO2 waste streams for enhanced oil recovery. 

In 2009, the Parties amended LP Article 6 concerning the export of wastes for dumping purposes, aimed at enabling Parties to share transboundary sub-seabed geological formations for sequestration projects, on the condition that the protection standards of the LP are fully met. The amendment will enter into force sixty days after two-thirds of the Contracting Parties have deposited an instrument of acceptance with the Organization.

In 2019, Contracting Parties to the London Protocol adopted a resolution (LP.5(14)) to allow provisional application of an amendment to Article 6 of the Protocol to allow export of CO2 for storage in sub-seabed geological formations. Two or more countries can therefore agree to export CO2 for geological storage. To do so they must deposit a formal declaration of provisional application with the Secretary-General of IMO, and also notify  IMO of any agreements and arrangements for permitting and responsibilities between the Parties, following the existing guidance. 

The resolution stresses that provisional application of the 2009 amendment should only be seen as a preliminary solution pending further acceptances and formal entry into force of the amendment to Article 6, therefore current and prospective Contracting Parties to the London Protocol are urged to consider accepting the amendment.  

The most relevant documents with respect to CCS under the London Protocol can be found in the menu to the right.