Climate change is the greatest threat posed to our society, and the shipping industry is determined to play its part and support the urgent action necessary to reduce emissions.

Net Zero by 2050  (Our Position)

The UK Chamber of Shipping has long acknowledged the pressing need for carbon reduction in maritime activities. Our commitment to this effort was evident when we championed an ambitious call for Net Zero Carbon (NZC) emissions on a well-to-wake basis from shipping by 2050, announced during the London International Shipping Week in 2021.

However, with the mounting scientific consensus and global urgency surrounding climate change, we understood that our goals must mirror this changing landscape. As such, we have revisited and revised our decarbonisation strategy, setting a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 from all greenhouse gases (GHG). We see this as an ambitious yet necessary target that aligns with the global commitment towards a sustainable future as enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

MEPC 80: Stepping Up Global Commitment

The path towards decarbonisation within the maritime industry was profoundly influenced by the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) adoption of an Initial GHG Strategy in 2018. This landmark strategy established a commitment to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping for the first time, forming the basis of subsequent global efforts to reduce shipping's carbon footprint.

The 80th session of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) in July 2023 marked another significant milestone in this journey. During this pivotal session, the IMO's member states agreed to revise and enhance the Initial GHG Strategy.

The revised strategy, approved at MEPC 80, has outlined bolder targets for the shipping industry. The cornerstone of this updated strategy is the shared ambition to achieve net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by or around 2050. Additionally, it underlines the commitment to foster the uptake of alternative, zero, or near-zero GHG fuels by 2030, and it establishes indicative milestones for 2030 and 2040.

The UK Chamber of Shipping applauds these revisions, which closely align with our own commitment to achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. The IMO GHG Strategy 2023 provides a clear pathway for the shipping sector's decarbonisation efforts. However, it also highlights the need for detailed implementation mechanisms to turn these aspirations into action.

Global Actions and Market-Based Measures


We advocate for a unified international approach to decarbonisation steered by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). A coordinated, global strategy will efficiently reduce emissions and prevent a piecemeal approach that could impact global trade negatively. 

An important part of this is the development of a global Market-Based Measure (MBM) as part of a basket of measures that includes both technical and economic elements. MBMs can incentivise the shipping industry to adopt cleaner technologies by putting a price on emissions. However, we also need a comprehensive assessment and careful management of any MBM, ensuring that it does not distort market dynamics or cause unintended negative consequences. The revenues generated should be channelled back towards the sector in support of the research, development, and deployment of clean maritime technologies and solutions.

Domestic Action (The Role of the UK)


While we continue to advocate for global measures in shipping decarbonisation, we equally emphasise the significance of domestic actions. The Chamber plays a vital role in spearheading initiatives at home aimed at reducing the domestic footprint of our maritime industry.

Shore Power 

About 10% of cruise ships’ emissions, and up to 15% of ferry emissions, occur in ports. Adopting measures such as shore power to mitigate these emissions and help decarbonise the sector is crucial. Our members have  are keen to move forward, but ordering or upgrading ships without a clear long-term plan from Government on tackling capacity constraints and electricity supply is a challenge. 

We need to be prioritising ports and other key national infrastructure for capacity roll out ending the first come first serve approach we currently have. 

Future Fuels

Our members are already implementing changes to reduce their emissions. However, the maritime sector has faced considerable challenges in developing synthetic fuels which can be produced at the required scale.

A Future Fuels Plan is therefore necessary to support the industry’s update of low carbon alternatives to current maritime fuels. Further to this, the creation of an attractive environment for the uptake of renewable fuels would also incentivise vessels to bunker in the UK as opposed to neighbouring countries, increasing the UK’s competitive advantage on the world stage.

However, the scale of the challenge cannot be underestimated, especially with no current Government plan on how to support the supply of greener alternative fuels. The entire global generation of green methanol today is less than 100,000 tonnes, yet for a quarter of Maersk’s fleet alone to be renewable by 2030, they would need five million tonnes – fifty times as much. 

UK Emissions Trading Scheme 

We support the decision to incorporate domestic shipping within the scope of the UK Emissions Trading System (ETS). As we work closely with the UK ETS authority, our primary goals include aligning this system with international measures, avoiding any possibility of double-counting emissions, and maintaining the competitiveness of the UK shipping industry at the global level. This balance is crucial to ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of emissions reduction efforts both domestically and internationally. We also need to ensure that lifeline domestic ferry services are not put at risk through their inclusion in the UK’s ETS. 

The Chamber is steady in its commitment to leading the maritime industry towards a sustainable future. As we strive to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, we see this as an opportunity for growth and innovation, not just a challenge to overcome. Together with our members, we are charting a course for a more sustainable and resilient shipping industry for the good of our planet and future generations.