IMO GHG strategy

According to the 4th IMO Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Study, maritime transport emitted around 1,056 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018, which is about 2.9 per cent of global GHG emissions. To address this issue, the IMO adopted an initial strategy in 2018 to reduce GHG emissions from ships and phase them out as soon as possible.
GHG strategy

The IMO’s Initial GHG Strategy has three interlinked ambitions:

  • A reduction in carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 2008.
  • Pursuing efforts to achieve a 70 per cent reduction by 2050, compared to 2008.
  • Reduce the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50 percent by 2050.

To provide a regulatory framework to achieve these targets, existing (and proposed) amendments to the Pollution Prevention Treaty (MARPOL) take a technical and operational approach to reducing GHGs. These include:

  • Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI): New ships must be built and designed to be more energy efficient.
  • Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP): A practical tool for helping shipowners manage their environmental performance and improve operational efficiency.
  • Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI): Set to enter into force in 2023, EEXI applies many of the same design requirements as the EEDI, with some adaptations regarding limited access to design data.
  • The Fuel Oil Consumption Data Collection System (DCS): Mandates annual reporting of CO2 emissions and other activity data and ship particulars for all ships above 5,000 GT.
  • Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) is a rating scheme (A-E) developed by the IMO to  measure the annual performance of all ships above 5,000 GT in terms of CO2 per DWT and distance covered. 

The IMO is following a two-tier approach to implementing decarbonization measures, focusing first on a limited set of short-term measures, then scaling up to more comprehensive medium- and long-term measures. The Initial IMO GHG Strategy is expected to be revised in 2023.

DNV INSIGHT: The essential organisation

While some have criticised the IMO for not acting with more urgency on climate change, the organization’s work will play an increasingly important role in the decarbonization of the shipping industry going forward. In addition to regulations to reduce GHG emissions from ships and encouraging its 174 member states and to develop and update National Action Plans consistent with IMO policies, the IMO collaborates with key industry stakeholders through its Department of Partnerships and Projects (DPP). Introduced in 2020, the DPP acts as a gateway for developing partnerships opportunities with a wide range of external partners, include member states, UN agencies, financial institutions NGOs, IGOs, and the private sector.

Need more detailed information and guidance?

Dive in deeper:

Achieving the IMO decarbonization goals

View 15 insightful slides with a focus on containerships