Historic greenhouse gas deal likely to be signed in London today

After a four days of negotiations at the UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London this week, and a day before an historic decision to cut the global shipping sector’s greenhouse gases is due, calls for unity and consensus were made from both developing and developed countries around the world during what has been a marathon meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee.

Out of 173 IMO member states, only two have made an official objection to the draft text – Saudi Arabia and the US. All other member states from around the world are either openly or tacitly supporting the draft text, and its passage through to committee stage Friday.

Argentina and Brazil had been vocally fighting the outright reduction target but have gone quiet in the last day and did not reserve their position on the draft text, potentially paving the way for an agreement Friday which is traditionally done by consensus.

The draft text would see total shipping sector greenhouse gas emissions slashed by “at least” 50% by 2050, from 2008 levels, implying anywhere between 50% and 100%.This wording was crucial to keeping Pacific Island states delegations onboard, many of whom were required by their governments to keep open full carbon neutrality by this date, as a condition of meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

The draft also commits to pursuing the phase out of emissions “on a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals”.

The deal is expected to be finalised later today and Splash will be providing an update from London this evening.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Like most of today’s shipowners I’m going to be a very old man in 2049 when the industry pleads with regulators for “more time” to implement these reductions. 32 years is too long a window to drive innovation, change behaviours or focus leadership on the simple proposition that as a species we should try not to extinguish ourselves by destroying a finite and fragile ecosystem with our own waste. Shipping emissions are no different and no less harmful than any other, even though they are thinly spread and out of sight.

  2. So, Rod, what do you propose as a solution?

    For IMO to get 171 member nations to agree the current text is some achievement. It needed to be a timeframe of at least life of ship to gain credibility. Now it will be a challenge for MEPC to insert some form of markers at their next session(s). Maybe that all vessels ordered after say 2030 have to be capable of operating worldwide with emissions that are at least 50 percent less than today, otherwise they are denied certificates to operate. Any vessel ordered after 2050 must have zero emissions?

    I certainly will not be around to see the results!

Back to top button