Until last week, there was no major agreement for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships. This was the case despite the fact that around 90% of global trade depends on ocean shipping. It represented a considerable gap in global climate change confrontation, particularly as the Paris Agreement does not cover emissions from this source.
This changed last week, when the 173 nations of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed on an ambitious reduction goal. The goal aims to cut emissions by 50%, in absolute terms, by 2050. This objective is key as it sets expectations for the industry.
How will this be achieved? There are already clues coming from some specific associations. Efficiency improvements will likely not be sufficient to reach the ambitious goal. Therefore, some in the shipping industry are looking to alternative fuels. For example, a spokesperson from the Japanese Shipowner’s Association stated that hydrogen, fuel cells, and wind power were all being considered. While details of how shipping companies around the world will help meet the target will likely not emerge for some time, it’s clear that it is a massive step forward for galvanizing action.