To raise global ambitions on decarbonising shipping, the Danish Prime Minister has presented an initiative at COP26 to ensure political support for an IMO target on zero-emission shipping by 2050. The “Declaration on zero-emission shipping by 2050” has so far been signed by fourteen countries including the US, UK, Denmark and Norway.

The other signatory states are Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, the Marshall Islands, Panama and Sweden. The declaration comes in response to the “Call to action for shipping decarbonisation”, which has now been signed by over 200 companies and organisations and was presented in September.

Global shipping accounts for almost 3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed on an “Initial strategy for reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships”, which included a goal for shipping to reduce its GHG emissions by at least fifty per cent by 2050 compared to 2008. However, given technological developments and the latest climate science, the countries that signed the declaration hope to set a clear target for the shipping industry to reach zero-emission by 2050.

Zero-emission ships are on the water by 2030

The signatories state that emissions from international shipping should ‘peak immediately, undergo significant reductions in the 2020s, and reach zero emissions by 2050’. They see international collaboration and investment in the production of zero-emission fuels as vital, as well as creating green shipping corridors and infrastructure and other efforts to ensure a critical mass of zero-emission ships are on the water by 2030, to serve as a tipping point toward full decarbonisation for the sector.

They say a revision of the IMO Initial GHG Strategy has to be agreed by 2023. Therefore, the Declaration seeks to widen support for the IMO 2050 zero-emission shipping target in relation to the upcoming revision of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy.

Also read: ‘Decisive government action needed to enable full decarbonisation of shipping by 2050’

Zero-emission shipping mission

In the declaration, the signatories also express their appreciation for the “Zero-emission shipping mission“. The Mission was recently launched by Denmark, Norway, the US, the private sector and supporting countries and is to accelerate global innovation efforts across maritime and energy sectors to make a zero-emission fleet a reality by 2030.