MEPC 80 revised GHG strategy

IMO decides that by 2040, the world fleet must have reduced its total GHG emissions by more than 70% compared to 2008

Published: 10 July 2023

The revised IMO GHG reduction strategy agreed during the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC 80) in London on 7 July 2023 marks a new beginning of the efforts to limit shipping’s GHG emissions.  

The strategy sets out several ambitions, of which the most significant are: 

  • Net-zero GHG emissions by or around, ie close to, 2050 
  • Uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emissions technologies, fuels and/or energy sources to represent at least 5%, striving for 10%, of the energy used by international shipping by 2030 

To clarify the pathway towards decarbonisation, the strategy further includes indicative checkpoints: 

  • To reduce the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 20%, striving for 30%, by 2030, compared to 2008 
  • To reduce total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 70%, striving for 80%, by 2040, compared to 2008 

These indicative checkpoints will play a significant role when the implementing measures are developed. It is the intention that they form points on the trajectory towards the 2050 ambition of net-zero GHG emissions, and 2040 is only 17 years away. Ships being built now will be in service then. With mandatory measures also having been agreed to be developed by 2025 in order to implement the pathway, the industry faces some major changes.  

It is agreed that one measure is a mandatory fuel GHG-intensity standard. It is intended to set limits for the GHG-intensity of fuel used by ships with increasing stringency year by year. Some kind of fleet averaging mechanism is also being considered to make it work in practice. However, with anticipated fleet growth between now and 2040, we may expect that the ship-average reduction of GHG emissions will be around 90% by then. Capability to burn zero GHG fuels is an issue for all to address now. 

The fuel standard may be complemented by some kind of economic instrument to price the emissions. Details have not been decided but await a comprehensive impact assessment, also agreed at MEPC 80. 

The mandatory measures will become take effect from 2027. 

The BIMCO secretariat is of the firm belief that the revised IMO strategy is a game changer for the shipping industry, and it is important for all to understand its implications for both existing and new ships. 

Download the IMO strategy (note that the text may not be final).  

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Christian Baekmark Schiolborg


Christian Baekmark Schiolborg

Manager, Marine Environment

Copenhagen, Denmark