Shipping has the potential to be a clean and sustainable means of transport, but has consistently failed to realise its potential.

Ships are responsible for 2-3% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. These emissions are predicted to double or triple by 2050 and could easily undermine all other efforts at keeping warming below the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5 degrees.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol obliged developed countries to pursue reductions by working through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the UN body responsible for regulating international shipping, but progress has been very slow. After 20 years all we have is a target for the energy efficiency of new ships that is so weak it is hardly better than business as usual. No binding measures have been agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the existing fleet of ships, and no reduction target has been set. 



The problem of shipping’s impact on the climate can only be solved with a suite of ambitious measures addressing the design of new ships , the operation of existing ships and the introduction of fuel efficient and renewable technologies, all within the framework of clear emission reduction targets that are consistent with keeping warming below 1.5 degrees. Special measures are required to protect the Arctic.

And this will only be possible if the shipping industry stops blocking progress and States start treating rising temperatures as a genuine global crisis in need of immediate ambitious action.

Seas At Risk is also working on reducing marine litter including waste from shipping.