Global Shipping Negotiations Wrap Up with Limited Commitments to Reduce Climate Pollution

Statement from Fred Krupp, President and Marie Cabbia Hubatova, Director, Global Shipping at Environmental Defense Fund

July 7, 2023
Debora Schneider, (212) 616-1377,

Delegates at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) today concluded negotiations to revise the United Nations agency’s Strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships with an aspirational goal to reach net-zero emissions by, or around, the year 2050 on a full lifecycle basis. The IMO’s 80th Marine Environment Protection Committee settled on emission reduction checkpoints of up to 30% by 2030 and up to 80% by 2040. Member States also set a timeline for the adoption of mid-term measures, such as a global fuel standard and a greenhouse gas pricing mechanism, to be designed in the next two years and come into force in 2027.

“The shipping sector must do its fair share in the global fight against climate change and dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels. We need to ensure that practical tools are developed in the next two years to do more to protect our ecosystems and communities – especially those at greater risk of health impacts and extreme weather – and spur a thriving maritime industry.”

“Member States at the International Maritime Organization showed they are willing to steer the shipping sector towards a clean future, but the 2023 Strategy is not in line with the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. The intermediate checkpoints are not strong enough to deliver the necessary emissions reductions and the language around the deadline for phasing out emissions is ambiguous.

The next two years will be crucial for the United Nations agency to develop robust mechanisms to eliminate emissions from ships in a manner that protects the environment and communities, and that delivers rapid and effective decarbonisation beyond the ambition agreed upon today. Member States must work together to get the sector closer to aligning with the Paris Agreement, and to set the standard for other hard-to-abate sectors to follow.”

Maritime shipping is central to the global supply chain with 90% of the world’s freight carried by ships that run on fossil fuels. If ranked as a country, the shipping sector would be the world’s 6th largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. With the increasing demand to move goods, pollution from ships is expected to surge by nearly 50% in the next two decades and continue to rise, unless significant action is taken. Urgently phasing out emissions from shipping is critical to limit global warming in alignment with the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

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