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A Path Towards Zero Emission Maritime Shipping

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Author(s): Bryan Comer, PhD, Senior Researcher, ICCT, Washington DC, USA

In this paper, Senior Researcher Bryan Comer assesses the moves being made by the shipping industry to become more sustainable. 

Emissions from the international maritime shipping sector were not explicitly included in the 2015 Paris Agreement, leaving the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop its own climate strategy.

About this time last year, IMO member states adopted an initial greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy that aims to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping to at least 50% below 2008 levels by 2050, with a vision to completely eliminate them as soon as possible this century.

Eight months later, Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, announced its intention to achieve ‘net’ zero emissions by 2050 – holding open the possibility for using biofuels (which may not be emission-free during their lifecycle), but clarifying that they will get to ‘net zero’ without buying carbon offsets, which have a poor track record of delivering real-world reductions.

As governments and industry set a course for decarbonization, how do we get there?


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