IMO greenhouse gas strategy
The strategy sets an initial vision and targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions for international shipping. The IMO will revise the Initial Strategy in 2023.
The vision set out in the strategy confirms the IMO's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, with an aim to phase them out as soon as possible this century.
The ambitions identified in the strategy are:
- reduce the carbon intensity of new ships through further Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) phases for new builds
- reduce the carbon intensity (carbon dioxide emissions per transport work) as an average across international shipping by at least 40% by 2030, working towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels.
- peak greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and reduce the total annual emissions by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels.
These targets set shipping on an emission reduction pathway that is consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
The strategy lists candidate measures to meet the emission reduction targets. These measures will be prioritised and reviewed as technology and information further develops.
Short-term measures (finalised and agreed by the IMO between 2018–23)
The IMO has progressed work on short-term measures to meet the 2030 goal, including:
- further strengthening the EEDI by adopting EEDI Phase 3 requirements for certain ship types in April 2022 instead of 2025
- Establishing a correspondence group to consider the introduction of a possible phase 4 EEDI requirements
- adopting a resolution that encourages countries to promote voluntary cooperation between their ports and the shipping sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships
- Completion of the Fourth IMO Greenhouse Gas Study 2020
- consider establishing an International Maritime Research Board (IMRB) to coordinate and oversee research and development efforts
- development of draft robust lifecycle greenhouse gas and carbon intensity guidelines for all types of fuels
- preparation of an implementation programme for effective uptake of alternative fuels.
- adopton of the Energy Efficiency Design Index for Existing Ships (EEXI), requiring technical energy efficiency improvements across the existing global fleet
- adopton of the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) and rating system, requiring operational energy improvements and performance rating of all vessels.
Mid- and long-term measures (finalised and agreed by the IMO between 2023–30 and beyond 2030)
Most mid- and long-term measures will be finalised and agreed upon by the IMO between 2023–-30, but work on certain measures will need to begin before 2023. These measures will contribute to ensuring the longer-term targets of the strategy are met.
These measures may include alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, alternative propulsion systems and aids, market-based measures that incentivise greenhouse gas emission reduction, and further operational energy efficiency measures for both new and existing ships.
Implementation of the strategy—recent achievements
Since the adoption of the strategy in 2018, the IMO has approved a programme of follow-up actions of the and progressed several short-term greenhouse gas reduction measures. These include:
- an invitation to countries to encourage voluntary cooperation between port and shipping sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships (MEPC.323(74))
- further strengthening of the EEDI by adopting amendments to MARPOL Annex VI on the early application of the EEDI Phase 3 requirements for certain ship types, which will enter into force in April 2022 (resolution MEPC.324(75))
- establishment of a correspondence group to consider the introduction of a possible phase 4 of EEDI requirements.
- completion of a fourth IMO greenhouse gas study
- Possibly establishing an International Maritime Research Board (IMRB) to coordinate and oversee research and development efforts
- ongoing technical cooperation and capacity-building activities, including the establishment of a voluntary multi-donor trust to support the implementation of the strategy in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
- approval of a plan to support consideration of mid- and long-term emission reduction measures, such as alternative fuels and market-based measures, and
- adoption of a new short-term greenhouse gas reduction measure for existing ships; (MEPC.328(76)), including seven sets of technical guidelines to support the implementation of the new measure.
The initial strategy recognises the need to assess the impact a measure may have on countries before adoption, especially possible disproportionate impacts on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This assessment process is conducted in line with an agreed IMO procedure. Following the impact assessment, the IMO will then consider mitigation for any disproportionate impacts.