IMO adopts 2023 strategy including net-zero goals and fuel targets

IMO adopts 2023 strategy including net-zero goals and fuel targets


The 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships was adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee

Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have adopted a new strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from ships at a meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80).

The 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships include an ambition to reach net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping close to 2050. It also commits the IMO to ensuring an uptake of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030 and establishes indicative checks on progress for 2030 and 2040.

"The adoption of the 2023 IMO Greenhouse Gas Strategy is a monumental development for the IMO and opens a new chapter towards maritime decarbonisation,” said Kitack Lim, secretary-general of the IMO. “At the same time, it is not the end goal, as it is in many ways a starting point for the work that needs to intensify even more over the years and decades ahead of us. However, with the revised strategy that has now been agreed on, we have a clear direction, a common vision, and ambitious targets to guide us to deliver what the world expects from us."

The revised strategy aims for carbon intensity of ships to decline through improvements to energy efficiency, with a review to be carried out into strengthening design requirements for efficiency. It also includes the ambition for the overall carbon intensity of international shipping to decline, with a target of reducing average carbon dioxide emissions per transport work by at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 2008 levels.

The IMO will also aim to increase uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels, and energy sources to provide at least 5 per cent of the energy used in international shipping by 2030, with a further ambition for achieving 10 per cent if possible.

The first of two indicative checkpoints established by the new strategy sets a target of reducing total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 20 per cent by 2030 compared to 2008, with an ambition for a 30 per cent reduction. The second checkpoint aims for at least a 70 per cent reduction by 2040, striving for 80 per cent.

In order to achieve these goals, the 2023 GHG Strategy calls for a slate of candidate measures to be developed and finalised. This would include a technical element, specifically a goal-based marine fuel standard regulating the phased reduction of the marine fuel’s GHG intensity. An economic element, on the other hand, will be established on the basis of a maritime GHG emissions pricing mechanism. The potential impact of the candidate elements will be assessed before they are eventually finalised.

An interim report on the impact assessment of mid-term measures will be delivered in Spring 2024 at MEPC 81. A finalised version will then follow in Autumn 2024 at MEPC 82, before a review of short-term measures to be implemented on 1 January 2026 is presented in Spring 2025. Approval one medium-term measures and a further review of short-term measures will take place at MEPC 84 in Spring 2026, before an extraordinary one or two-day MEPC is held for the adoption of measures.

"The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) welcomes the IMO's ambitious plan to achieve net-zero emissions from international shipping by 2050, a crucial milestone for the cruise industry and our planet," said Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the WTTC. "We urge governments to actively support sustainable marine fuels, shoreside power, and other net-zero technologies in all shipping sectors. Collaboration between governments and the industry is vital to achieve net-zero emissions. Sustainable growth in travel and tourism, including aviation, rail, and cruise liners, remains a key objective for the sector worldwide."

Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
13 July 2023