With the Paris agreement, the international community recognized the need to reduce GHG emissions to zero. Ships sailing the high seas and transporting goods, currently represent 2 to 3 % of global GHG emissions. These figures could significantly increase in the future as transportation by international shipping is expected to continue to grow in the decades to come.

In 2017, the International Maritime Organization adopted the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships. This was a major milestone on the road to phase out GHG emissions from the sector. The strategy considers that GHG reductions in shipping can be achieved through energy efficiency technology and operational improvements, energy/fuels use with lower GHG emissions, capture and storage of GHG emissions produced and their subsequent sequestration. The objective of this IMO strategy is to reduce by 2050 at least 50% the GHG emissions of the sector.

In the actual state of technological development, this can realistically only be achieved by a switch to low or zero carbon fuels. This will represent a challenge for the maritime shipping sector. Major investments in research, development and deployment (as a lot of technologies are already available just not on a sufficiency large scale) for new fuels/energy, technologies and infrastructure will be needed. There is a need for IMO to adopt measures to incentivize research, development and deployment efforts. This transition must start soon, in order to keep the 1.5°C alive and protect the sector from a rapid and chaotic process.

Among the questions to be discussed :

  • What needs to be done to start this transition process ?
  • How fast can/should the sector reach to zero GHG emissions ?
  • How can we convince the leaders to take up this challenge?