In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed to reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared with a 2008 baseline, with carbon intensity reduction targets for 2030 and 2050.
In 2020, international shipping accounted for about 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.
The same year, IMO member countries approved a set of short-term measures to achieve the target of reducing carbon intensity 40% by 2030. The measures adopted comprise mandatory goal-based operational and technical requirements.
While measures recently approved by IMO are likely to curb the rise of emissions over the 2020s, greater policy ambition is needed to steer the maritime shipping sector towards the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario pathway and to eliminate GHG emissions in the second half of the century.
Innovation is vital to ensure that zero-emissions oceangoing vessels are made commercially available by the mid-2020s. Policies are urgently needed to reduce the carbon intensity of shipping activities (e.g. energy efficiency measures and slow-steaming requirements). Importantly, policies are also needed to encourage the adoption of low- and zero-carbon fuels and technologies for oceangoing vessels.
Last updated Jan 7, 2022
Energy intensity of international shipping in the Net Zero Scenario, 2015-2030
Existing regulations on energy efficiency fall short of long-term targets
The newly approved technical and operational measures established by the IMO are not sufficient to curb GHG emissions from international shipping in the long term. The short-term measures entail an average annual efficiency improvement of the global vessel fleet (measured as emissions per tonne-kilometre) of almost 2% between 2020 and 2030. This is only slightly better than the historical average annual improvement rate of 1.6% between 2000 and 2017. Average annual improvements of more than 4% to 2030 are required to put international shipping on the Net Zero Emissions pathway.