The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) Fourth GHG study 2020 reported that in 2018 global shipping energy demand accounted for nearly 11 exajoules (EJ), resulting in around 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) (international shipping and domestic navigation) and 3% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a CO2-equivalent basis. Fossil fuels. i.e. heavy fuel oil (HFO), marine gas oil (MGO), very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and, more recently on a small scale, the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) currently provide up to 99% of the sector’s final energy demand. International shipping enables 80-90% of global trade and comprises about 70% of global shipping energy emissions. If the international shipping sector were a country, it would be the sixth or seventh-largest CO2 emitter, comparable to
Germany. Yet, international shipping emissions fall outside national GHG emission accounting frameworks.
However, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set an ambition to reduce international shipping carbon emissions per transport work by at least 40 percent by 2030, and 70 percent by 2050, off 2008 baseline. These ambitions send a signal to the shipping industry that change is coming and all parties involved need to prepare. Shipping connects the world by supplying essential goods that society needs to thrive. Whilst this is done with the lowest carbon footprint of any mode of transport per ton transported, shipping is still emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases. With a sizeable carbon footprint that only shows signs of growing and a decades-long investment horizon, shipping cannot afford to wait. For the world to decarbonize, shipping must decarbonize.