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Adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of an initial strategy on reduction of Green House Gases emissions at MEPC 72

04.13.18

Adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of an initial strategy on reduction of Green House Gases emissions - 13th of April, 2018

Convention : MARPOL Annex VI Air Pollution

Flag : ALL FLAGS

Ship type : ALL TYPES

Adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of an initial strategy on reduction of Green House Gases emissions 
13th of April, 2018



The Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships has been adopted today by the 72th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee. 

The Initial Strategy is aimed at enhancing IMO's contribution to global efforts by addressing GHG emissions from international shipping, and identifying actions to be implemented by the international shipping sector, as appropriate 

It is the first milestone set out in the Roadmap for developing a comprehensive IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships (the Roadmap) approved at MEPC 70. 

In 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement with the long-term goal of keeping the temperature increase well-below 2°C and pursuing efforts to 1.5°C by achieving the GHG balance in the second half of this century. 

Accordingly, nearly 200 countries, including developing countries, have already submitted their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) or intended NDCs (INDCs). In the international aviation sector, which is not addressed by the Paris Agreement, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted the global target of improving the efficiency by 2% every year and maintaining the emission volume below the 2020 level. 

International shipping was the sole sector having no GHG emissions reduction target so far. 

The initial IMO Strategy includes levels of ambition with specific GHG emissions reduction targets for international shipping. 

Levels of ambition directing the Initial Strategy are as follows:

  • 1. carbon intensity of the ship to decline through implementation of further phases of the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) for new ships ;

    2. carbon intensity of international shipping to decline, through reducing CO2 emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 ;

    3. GHG emissions from international shipping to peak and decline as soon as possible and reduction of the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% (taking into account an increase of sea transportation) by 2050 compared to 2008



The principles guiding the Initial Strategy include the need to be cognizant of the principles enshrined in instruments already developed, such as the principle of non-discrimination and the principle of no more favourable treatment, enshrined in MARPOL and other IMO conventions; but also the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances, enshrined in UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. 

A list of candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impacts on states to reach the objectives aforementioned has been addressed but is subject to further work from the IMO at its coming meetings. 

Possible short-term measures could be finalized and agreed by the MEPC between 2018 and 2023. 

The measures evocated are, a.o :

  • further improvement of the existing energy efficiency framework with a focus on EEDI and SEEMP, taking into account the outcome of the review of EEDI regulations ; 
  • develop technical and operational energy efficiency measures for both new and existing ships, including consideration of indicators that can be utilized to indicate and enhance the energy efficiency performance of shipping, e.g. Annual Efficiency Ratio (AER), Energy Efficiency per Service Hour (EESH), Individual Ship Performance Indicator (ISPI) and Fuel Oil Reduction Strategy (FORS ); 
  • establishment of an Existing Fleet Improvement Programme ; 
  • use of speed optimization and speed reduction ; 
  • initiate research and development activities addressing marine propulsion, alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, and innovative technologies to further enhance the energy efficiency of ships and establish an International Maritime Research Board to coordinate and oversee these R&D efforts.


Possible mid-term measures could be finalized and agreed by the MEPC between 2023 and 2030, long term ones beyond 2030. 

The Roadmap identifies that a revised Strategy is to be adopted in 2023. 

It can be noted that some countries (Chile, Argentina for instance), originally reluctant, have joined the consensus achieved by the MEPC 72. 

Main flag states have agreed to this initial strategy (Marshall Islands, Bahamas, Liberia, whereas only few countries have expressed global (Saudi Arabia, United-States) or partial (Brazil) reservations.