IMO Approves Updated Strategy to Cut Emissions from International Shipping

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Posted on Jul 30, 2023 at 08:07 PM

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a UN agency overseeing international shipping, has agreed with its member nations on an updated strategy to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sector.

A new goal to achieve net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping "close to 2050" is part of the updated IMO GHG Strategy, approved last week at the Marine Environment Protection Committee in London following a series of discussions.

By 2030, it is intended to have 5–10% of the energy mix in the industry come from non-fossil fuel sources, which will be accomplished in part by increasing the uptake of clean or low-carbon fuel alternatives.


Key Features of The Updated IMO GHG Strategy 2023

The updated GHG Strategy outlines "levels of ambition" for shipping emissions reduction and "indicative milestones" to ensure sector progress:

  •  The ship's carbon intensity will decrease as energy efficiency for future ships is progressively improved.

  • To cut CO2 emissions per transport work (distance sailed x capacity) as a percentage of global shipping by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 2008.

  •  By 2030, international shipping will utilise at least 5% and ideally 10% of energy from sources with zero or almost zero GHG emissions.

  •  To achieve a minimum 20% yearly reduction in the overall GHG emissions from international shipping, with a goal of 30% by 2030 compared to 2008 (indicative milestone).

  •  To achieve an 80% reduction in global GHG emissions from international shipping by 2040 compared to 2008 (indicative milestone), with a minimum reduction of 70%.

  •  Peak GHG emissions by 2050, considering national conditions.


Seafarers Honoured for Major GHG Reduction Efforts

As part of the Revised Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy of the International Maritime Organisation, seafarers' unions have obtained promises to a "Just Transition" for maritime employees.

A just transition involves equitable, inclusive economic greening, generating employment opportunities, and ensuring no one is left behind.

Since the plan calls for revising seafarers' training and ensuring that new zero-emission technology is secure for workers and communities, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) applauds the decision, which acknowledges seafarers' value and contribution to the decarbonisation of shipping.


The New Rules Proved Difficult for Seafarers to Adapt

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Ensuring a fair transition to a green economy is crucial to hasten decarbonisation, as skills shortages and skill gaps hinder progress. Barriers include unclear alternative fuel options, and regulatory and financing uncertainties, making it challenging to plan maritime workforce transition and attract investment for decarbonised future.

Lack of qualified instructors, a shortage of seafarers, and a lack of funding for facilities and supplies are other hindrances to training in the maritime industry.

Eventually, as many as 800,000 seafarers must possess skills, knowledge, and training by the middle of the 2030s to safely operate sophisticated technologies, ships of the future and manage fuels posing risks to health and safety.


Global Effects and MEPC 80 of the IMO's Revised Strategy

Though the ICCT predicts that the sector won't stay inside the 1.5°C limit, it is clear that the Strategy does intend to expedite the industry's decarbonisation and enable it to meet the "well below 2°C" target stated in the Paris Agreement.

We can Anticipate regulatory changes, including EEDI, EEXI, and CII, to accelerate decarbonisation plans and encourage shipowners and operators.

To increase awareness of the necessity of a Just Transition for the Maritime Workforce, the Task Force will introduce the action above plan and DNV report at COP 27.

Following COP27, the IMO hosted the MEPC 80. An "enhanced common ambition" to cut emissions led to the adoption of the "Revised Strategy" on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships on 7 July 2023.

According to Kitack Lim, secretary general of the IMO, this provides "a clear direction, a common vision, and ambitious targets to guide us to deliver what the world expects from us."



This is excellent news for the global shipping industry's future as the IMO adopts an accelerated plan for cleaner shipping to create a zero-emission lot in the upcoming years.

Without question, the IMO's new goals will not be met without fuel cell technology. This demonstrates that the industry must work together to eliminate hazardous emissions while shipments are rising to overcome the most significant challenge the sector has yet to confront.


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