The 1997 Kyoto Protocol tasked the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to address the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping, but more than 20 years later little has been done. 

The emissions from international shipping could grow by 250% and be responsible for 17% of global emissions by 2050 if left unregulated. Since 2007, IMO has considered several approaches including market-based measures as an option to address GHG emissions. In 2018, IMO agreed on an initial emissions reduction strategy, including the goal of reducing emissions from shipping by 50% by 2050. However, since then, it hasn’t been able to agree on any concrete measures to reach this goal. 

The European Union prefers a global solution but should be ready to act if the IMO won’t. In the EU Green Deal, the European Commission promises to include international shipping in the EU carbon market. The European Parliament is also discussing the topic with some Members of the Parliament having put forward a concrete proposal to this effect.

As a member of the “Clean Shipping Coalition” (CSC), Carbon Market Watch is an official observer to the IMO and follows its climate policy development process. With ships commissioned today likely to still be in use for 30 years, we call for rapid action, including an effective carbon price for the sector to address its growing emissions.