Skip to main content
supply chain emissions

Navigating Legal Obligations: Searoutes’ Role in Emissions Control Compliance

On May 21, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) issued an advisory opinion saying that wealthy nations must reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than smaller, poorer countries. ITLOS made this decision after a group of small nations pressed the tribunal to address how nations around the world should adopt tactics to tackle climate change, particularly within the shipping sector.

While ITLOS’ determination is not binding, its decision is significant because it’s the first ruling made by an international court that addresses nations’ roles in reducing GHG emissions, according to a May 21 article in The Guardian. The court opinion also has the potential to influence future climate-related lawsuits; two other international courts are also currently examining nations’ responsibilities in reducing emissions. 

ITLOS’ opinion comes as the European maritime sector is already facing a host of existing regulations worldwide aimed at reducing supply chain emissions. Since January, the sector has been participating in the European Union’s emissions trading system, as Searoutes has written about in recent blog posts. The sector must also comply with the climate change-related provisions of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. 

Given all these looming regulations facing the European maritime sector, working with a sustainability intelligence provider like Searoutes enables shippers to be prepared to meet these mandates head-on. Searoutes’ advanced data analytics and route optimization tools can help shippers not only reduce emissions but also ensure compliance with numerous regulations worldwide. 

What is the ITLOS Ruling?

As The Guardian article and a Columbia University Law School’s blog post explained, the nine Caribbean and Pacific nations that had sought the ITLOS ruling—the Commission of Small Island States on Climate and International Law (COSIS)—did so because climate change affects the ecosystem of the world’s oceans. Temperature changes, rising sea levels, and the acidification of the waters are some of the visible impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans that the nations have witnessed.

That’s why the countries participating in COSIS wanted ITLOS to determine what obligations nations have to prevent, reduce, and control pollution of the marine environment. They wanted more attention paid to how international climate law intersects with the international law of the sea. 

ITLOS affirmed the notion that greenhouse gases are pollutants and that nations must take measures to reduce marine pollution, noting that countries must adopt a standard of due diligence even though they might have varying capabilities and resources to adopt measures. Besides cooperating, sharing scientific knowledge, and conducting environmental impact assessments, nations also have a legal responsibility to control emissions from the shipping industry—or, as ITLOS characterizes it, pollution from both land-based sources and vessels that might contribute to cross-border pollution.

What Does This Ruling Mean for Shippers?

Although the ITLOS opinion isn’t binding, it reflects a broader trend toward producing frameworks and regulations that direct business sectors to reduce emissions and comply with emission reductions, or else face legal consequences. 

Especially as more international governing bodies are poised to issue climate change-related decisions in the upcoming months—both the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice are examining states’ roles in combating climate change—the expectation is that shippers are likely to be subject to comply with more climate change-related regulations, not less. 

Three Ways Searoutes Can Help Shippers Reduce Supply Chain Emissions 

To comply with an increasingly stringent regulatory environment, shippers will need to have visibility into the emissions produced throughout their supply chains. A silver lining to this increased scrutiny is that shippers can use this opportunity to meet and even surpass their own sustainability goals.   

Fortunately, Searoutes has several API tools that enable shippers to spot trends and ensure that companies are meeting their reduction targets. These technological tools take advantage of existing public data by looking for and analyzing historical patterns and then connecting those patterns with the challenges that shippers face today.

1. Data Analytics for Emissions Monitoring

Access to real-time emissions monitoring to ensure compliance with legal requirements is a great benefit for a company that regularly uses ocean and land transport. Searoutes’ APIs consist of advanced data analytics tools that enable shippers to monitor emissions data accurately and comprehensively.

We offer three API tools: Co2 API, which tracks carbon emissions along the supply chain; Sea + Inland Routing API, which monitors fuel consumption by considering factors such as transit time, vessel speed, and distances; and Vessel API, which analyzes a given vessel’s historic trace between two dates so that shippers can gain a fuller picture of a vessel’s characteristics.

2. Route Optimization for Emissions Reduction

Our API tools deploy route optimization algorithms designed to minimize fuel consumption and emissions, allowing shippers to reduce their environmental footprint and meet emissions reduction targets. 

For instance, Our Co2 API tool enables shippers to compute CO₂ emissions between two locations for any mode of transport. The tool provides an opportunity to analyze your supply chain’s emissions so that companies can determine what initiatives should be implemented to reduce emissions even further. 

3. Transparency and Accountability in Emissions Reporting

Searoutes values transparency and accountability in emissions reporting. Our API tools take publicly available data sources from the EU, the U.S., and others and search for trends and patterns that can be verified because of that foundation of public data. Shippers can use the findings from our API tools to create emissions data reports that can meet any current or proposed legal obligations. 

Searoutes can help shippers meet regulatory compliance

The recent ITLOS advisory opinion and other current regulatory schemes aimed at reducing carbon emissions within the supply chain reflect shippers’ growing responsibility to actively monitor and cut emissions. Fortunately, Searoutes can shippers maintain regulatory compliance by using the insights they glean from our API tools.

Contact Searoutes today and learn how we can help you navigate your legal obligations under these new emissions reduction schemes. 

carbon emissions in supply chain, reducing supply chain emissions, supply chain emissions