IMO climate agreement

Priority: The shipping sector must meet IMO climate objectives


“Dutch shipowners have proactively embraced the international climate agreement for the shipping sector. Short- and medium-term measures are now necessary to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets.”

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Nick Lurkin
Climate and Environment

+31 10 2176 275

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Press inquiries


Nathan Habers
Public Relations

+31 10 2176 264


On 13 April 2018, the international community within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed on a climate agreement for the maritime sector. The IMO proposal is along the same lines as the 2015 Paris Agreement, and has the following objectives:

Further tightening of existing Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) standards, resulting in an increasing number of energy-efficient new-build vessels joining the fleet.

Reduction of the transport performance per ship (measured in CO2 emissions per tonne/kilometre) of an average of 40% by 2030 (compared to 2008 levels). The aim for 2050 is a 70% reduction.

An absolute reduction of greenhouse gases of at least 50% in 2050 (compared to 2008). This should be followed by a total phasing out of greenhouse gases (including CO2) as soon as possible in the second half of this century.

In order to achieve these ambitious – yet realistic – objectives, shipowners are partly dependent on other links in the logistics chain. For example, although shipowners are the ones who make a vessel available, it is often the client (a charterer or shipper) who determines just how efficiently a ship will operate.

In addition, alternative fuels and propulsion techniques for new-build vessels will have to be developed further in order to reduce and eventually phase out emissions of CO2 and other pollutants.

However, because these technologies are not available for every ship type and size, the levels of required investment will be substantial, leading to increased transport costs for shipowners. This raises the following question: how do we achieve these objectives?

The challenge

In order to be able to meet the agreed reduction targets, it is important that all stakeholders in the shipping industry take responsibility for – and contribute towards – the continued phase-out of CO2 emissions in the maritime sector.

Another key factor in the forthcoming period will be that the IMO takes consistent decisions concerning any technical, operational and/or economic issues that may arise. All factors must be carefully considered in order to prevent any market disruption. Transporting cargo with vessels of various flag states and diverse vessel types, as well as by other (more CO2-intensive) transport modalities, must also be prevented.

For the short term, the KVNR is committed to a targeted approach, whereby shipowners can determine for themselves which measures (both technical and operational) they will take to meet the CO2 reduction target of 40% in 2030 compared to 2008. To this end, it is essential that the targeted approach of shipowners is verifiable and enforceable.

For the medium- and long-term, new techniques and solutions are needed to enable ships to sail with low-carbon or CO2-free emissions. R&D and pilot studies are therefore needed as quickly as possible to determine which alternative fuels and/or energy carriers are most suitable for different ship types and different sectors (for example, short sea shipping versus intercontinental shipping). An international maritime sustainability fund could contribute to this by means of a CO2 tax on shipping fuels.

When approached logically, global measures should also be feasible; assuming that safety standards are not at risk, and that a proper balance between reducing CO2 emissions and associated costs is maintained.

State of play - 5 February 2021

The KVNR is holding talks with various relevant parties (government, technical suppliers, banks, ports and shippers) to see how the shipping sector can further reduce its CO2 emissions. Within this configuration, it is important to establish what the various parties can do for each other to achieve this. For example, round table discussions with ports and shippers will soon be set up to discuss further ways to jointly improve the carbon footprint of shipping activities. The aim is to set up a few concrete partnerships and put them into practice.

In addition to participating in a green methanol project for the maritime sector, the KVNR is currently investigating a possible collaboration with knowledge institutions for a pilot study looking into the use of hydrogen in smaller ship engines.

In a global context at the IMO, there are now taking place official discussions about setting up a global maritime sustainability fund. In this set-up, a CO2 tax of 2 US dollars per tonne of bunkered fuel could generate a multi-billion dollar fund to finance the Research & Development of alternative fuels and energy carriers for the global fleet. The coming period will see this unique proposal from the international shipowners' associations elaborated further together with interested IMO member states.