Shipping companies want themselves to tighten their emissions targets

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) proposed yesterday that shipping worldwide should be carbon neutral by 2050

This is a significant tightening on the previous target level. To date, the UN ‘s International maritime organisation IMO, which regulates world shipping, has set a target that greenhouse gas emissions from shipping should be halved by 2050 compared to 2008.

Why so? After all, individual shipping companies have already set a target for greenhousegas emissions. Why ICS wants to make this a binding regulation? There are two reasons:

  • Since the IMO decision in June, the European Union has already set stricter targets for maritime emissions in the EU. It is possible that this would put European shipping companies at a competitive disadvantage compared to shipping companies from other countries. It would even be possible for some cargo to be routed to non-European ports instead of European ports.
  • It is estimated that $ 3.4 trillion will be needed to achieve the carbon neutrality in shipping. At the same time, ICS is proposing that a carbon levy for shipping, which should be channelled into a special fund to support shipowners in the transition to a carbon-neutrality.

In other words, with the proposal, ICS wants to avoid unfair regional competition and financially support shipowners in the transition.


Shipping currently accounts for less than 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This may be small from some point of view, but the share will of course increase as other sectors of energy production or transport become more low-emission.

In June 2021, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) decided on measures aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of shipping by 11% between 2019 and 2026. Decisions on 2027-2030 were postponed, as were measures until 2050.

In July 2021, the European Commission presented the Fitfor55 package, which included proposals for the inclusion of shipping in the carbon trading, the carbon content of fuels, the abolition of duty-free treatment of bunker and the distribution infrastructure for alternative fuels.

Emissions from shipping can be reduced in three different ways. Ship fuel solutions, ship design and operational solutions, i.e. ship type selection and ship speed choices. Energy companies are currently in an accelerating debate about fuel solutions and ship designers about new technological solutions, yet operational solutions can bring the biggest emission reductions at the lowest cost, at least in the short term.

The service life of the fleet is practically always more than 20 years, up to 30 or more. It is therefore important that the ship plans already on the table take the best possible environmental standards into account in the future as much as possible – energy solutions are as emission-free as possible and the ship’s energy consumption is kept to a minimum in relation to the amount of cargo carried.

The industry now has a solid foundation that we are on the road to zero-emission shipping – slower or faster. The ICS proposal is a strong support that we are moving at the same pace as other industries.

ICS press release:

Picture: Dan Rönnqvist

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