Skou urges IMO to ban fossil fuelled ships by 2035

Søren Skou has used his first mover advantage in the green shipping rush to make an ambitious call on regulators to phase out all fossil fuelled ships by the middle of the next decade.

Skou is the CEO of Maersk, the world’s largest containerline, a company that has ordered world-first green methanol dual-fuelled boxships in recent months.

Writing on LinkedIn on Friday, Skou suggested shipping should follow the path laid out for the automotive sector in Europe.

“The European Commission is proposing to end production of combustion engine cars in 2035. The International Maritime Organization should do the same for fossil fuelled ships with ambitious targets and measures to decarbonise shipping,” Skou proposed.

The IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index in its coming phases could be the instrument to make the end date for fossil fuelled ships a global reality

Going in to further detail, Skou suggested that both a global carbon tax and an end date for fossil fuelled ships would send a strong signal to the shipping ecosystem including yards and fuel producers.

A global “drop dead date” would address future newbuilt vessels, complementing the impact of existing ships from a carbon tax, Skou suggested.

Skou is in favour of a carbon tax of up to $450 per tonne of fuel to bridge the price gap between existing bunker fuels and the carbon neutral fuels of tomorrow.

“As the price gap narrows, the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index in its coming phases could be the instrument to make the end date for fossil fuelled ships a global reality,” Skou proposed.

Maria Skipper Schwenn, executive director for security, environment and maritime research at Danish Shipping, commended the idea, writing on the same social media platform: “Strong and important message from a first mover that walks the talk.”

Maersk has eschewed going down the LNG-fuelled path of many of its rivals.

In December 2018, Maersk came out as the first major shipping line to pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In October 2019 the Danish carrier identified three fuels to focus on in its decarbonisation drive, namely renewable methanol, biogas and ammonia.

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. The naysayers claim it can’t be done. But then they are the same people who claimed AGW was a scam etc. All the claims by the deniers have proved to be totally false and they are the reason we are now facing a dilemma, one that could have been easily avoided.
    So Skou is correct and should be admired and emulated.

  2. This should all keep freight rates sky high. What happens if the much vaunted move away from HFO actually proves to be much more complex and costly than currently predicted. This is all starting to look like a lemming type move accompanied by Emperor’s new clothes. The implications for cost effective world trade are potentially catastrophic but what the hell. Let’s sacrifice the lot on the altar of climate change. Back to the caves!

    1. That sounds remarkably like the claims of AGW deniers that have been made for decades. all proved wrong of course.
      “altar of climate change.” Science is not a religion, even though science deniers try to make out it is,
      “Back to the caves!”. Standard dogma from reality and science deniers. The total opposite is the reality, in more ways than one.
      The Koch/Exxon/Peabody axis love people like you.

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