Decarbonizing Shipping

  • The ocean provides the primary means to conduct world trade, with its vessels transporting global supply chains of food, fuel, medicines, and consumer goods.
  • The shipping sector must cut its carbon emissions if the Paris Agreement's climate change targets are to be met. 
  • While the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set targets to reduce shipping emissions, several industry initiatives are driving business ambition, such as Maersk’s Decarbonization Research Centre

Key Facts: 

  • The IMO’s 2050 ambition is to reduce the shipping industry’s greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, and to reduce the carbon intensity of emissions by 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels. 
  • The total cost of decarbonization has been estimated at $1.65 trillion by 2050; 87 % of this is needed for land-based infrastructure and facilities for low-carbon fuels. 

What are the Key Actions to Deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals? 

  • International regulations to reduce shipping emissions: IMO members, Governments and the industry must support proposed regulatory measures, the timelines and the proposed stringency levels. 
  • An international maritime research and development fund: Achieving the IMO 2050 ambition will require a number of low- and zero-carbon technologies. A global research fund will catalyze alternative fuel technologies and prototype infrastructure. 

What is the Action Platform doing this year? 

  • Developing key incentives to scale-up the decarbonization of shipping and take-up of low-zero carbon fuels
  • Supporting transparency and financeability through further development of “blue” criteria within existing sustainable bond frameworks to expand eligibility criteria. 
  • Engaging with governments, the IMO, and other key stakeholders to set up a global R&D fund. 


  • Ocean Stewardship 2030 (2020) Chapter 2. Decarbonizing Shipping
  • Sustainable Shipping Initiative.
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