The decarbonisation of maritime transport: navigating between a global and EU approach

Maritime transport accounts for ~3% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs), yet is not covered by the Paris Agreement objectives. Earlier this year, the sector’s main regulator, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted a revised GHG strategy setting an enhanced common ambition to reach net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping close to 2050. As of 2024, maritime transport emissions will be incorporated under the European Union’s cap-and-trade program – the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). As a result, shipping companies using European ports will have to monitor and report their emissions and purchase and surrender EU allowances (EUAs) for each tonne of reported carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. From 1 January 2026, this obligation will be extended to two short-lived GHGs – methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

This energy insight provides an overview of the key issues and tensions related to the decarbonisation policies for shipping. More specifically, it analyses new requirements for shipping companies under the EU ETS and discusses implications for shipping sector decarbonisation, methane mitigation in the EU and LNG.

By: Maria Olczak , Andris Piebalgs