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.


• 3% of total global CO2 emissions, 12 tanker trucks of gasoline equivalent, 50% emissions growth by 2050.

• While renewable fuels production costs are currently high, in the next decades renewable fuels will become cost competitive and can shield the shipping sector from the volatility that characterises the fossil fuels market.

• The sector’s decarbonisation strategy must involve a combination of energy efficiency and renewable fuels. Starting now, the active adoption of energy efficiency measures will be critical to reduce energy demand and thus CO2 emissions in the immediate term.

• Renewable e-ammonia will play a pivotal role; where 183 million tonnes of renewable ammonia for international shipping alone will be needed by 2050 – a comparable amount to today’s ammonia global production.

• Taking early action is vital. Sector decarbonisation can be accelerated and ambition raised beyond the climate goals by fostering investment in the production of renewable fuels. Stakeholders need to develop broader business models and establish strategic partnerships involving energy-intensive industries, as well as power suppliers and the petrochemical sector.

Strategic Approach

  • Working towards commercially viable zero-emissions vessels along deep-sea trade routes by 2040 via partnerships with shipping companies/manufacturers.
  • Advocating for the necessary infrastructure for scalable, zero-carbon energy sources.
  • Creating a shared sector transition strategy that maps the actions necessary to get to net-zero by 2050/2060.


  • Build broad industry support for strengthening African climate targets.
  • Work with shipping alliances/associations to substantially increase the number of maritime value chain companies targeting net zero in 2050/2060.
  • Develop a net-zero transition strategy with broad industry support.
  • Demonstrate stakeholder commitments to concrete, short-term actions to accelerate decarbonisation.
  • Ensure that commercially viable zero-emissions vessels are operating along deep-sea trade routes by 2050, with supporting infrastructure for zero-carbon energy sources.