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International Maritime Organisation.

Decarbonisation requires an international, co-ordinated response.

The industry must remain united in working towards a truly global regulatory framework that implements the Initial GHG Strategy, according to IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim.

Official headshot of Kitack Lim.
Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary General

Decarbonisation is one of today’s major challenges for the maritime sector, requiring an international, co‑ordinated response.

The maritime sector has a responsibility to join in the fight against climate change. We simply cannot shy away from the energy transition in shipping, to meet the ambitions in the Initial IMO strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships and ultimately phase out shipping’s GHG emissions.

The strategy sets out a concrete timeline for the efforts to decarbonise shipping and calls for a reduction in carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030; and for total annual GHG emissions from shipping to be cut by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, with the aim of decarbonising international shipping by the end of this century.

In November, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting approved short-term measures to improve ships’ carbon intensity. These draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI are expected to be formally adopted in 2021. In addition, a comprehensive impact assessment will be conducted and submitted to the MEPC next year, to provide a detailed evidence-based qualitative and quantitative assessment of specific negative impacts on States.

The package of amendments reflects the collective commitment to work towards decarbonisation of shipping. The package was a compromise borne out of long and challenging discussions. The outcome is highly important, based on hard work and solidarity over several years and establishing important building blocks, without which future discussions on mid and long-term measures will not be possible.

A great deal of work on the implementation of the measures lies ahead, but I am confident that, with the IMO community’s customary spirit of cooperation, we will be able to make rapid progress with the development of technical guidelines and a Carbon Intensity Code; as well as the essential work on the comprehensive assessment of impacts of the measures on developing countries.

To achieve our ambitious goals and decarbonise shipping as soon as possible, it is imperative that we remain united in working towards a truly global regulatory framework that implements the Initial GHG Strategy.

Regulation is important. But to significantly reduce and ultimately phase out emissions globally, we need new technologies, new fuels and innovation – meaning huge investments, notably in research and development (R&D) and infrastructure.

IMO is stepping up its efforts to act as the global forum and promoter of R&D in zero-carbon marine fuels, bringing together numerous stakeholders, from the public and private sectors, banks and other donors. I strongly encourage all shipping partners to be a part of this.

We must ensure that no country is left behind in the transition to carbon-neutral shipping. IMO is expanding its portfolio of capacity building projects supporting decarbonisation and innovation.

If we all work together, we can ensure that shipping has a truly sustainable, efficient and decarbonised future.

To achieve our ambitious goals and decarbonise shipping as soon as possible, it is imperative that we remain united in working towards a truly global regulatory framework.

Kitack Lim

Secretary General, International Maritime Organization

Horizons September 2021

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