IMO Revised GHG Strategy 2023: What’s New?

In its first major revision since its adoption in 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has updated its GHG Strategy. On 7th July 2023, the IMO officially adopted the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (IMO GHG Strategy 2023) and strengthened targets designed to reduce shipping emissions.

But what do the latest changes to the IMO’s GHG strategy mean for the shipping industry, and will they accelerate the decarbonization of the sector? Read on to find out more about the upcoming changes, the impact they’re expected to have and the role Climeon’s HeatPower technology is already having on emissions reductions throughout the sector. 

IMO GHG Strategy 2023: What’s Changed?

The revised GHG Strategy incorporates ‘levels of ambition’ that reflect the overall aim of reducing shipping emissions, including:

Strengthening energy efficiency design requirements of new ships to reduce carbon intensity.

Reducing CO2 emissions per transport work by at least 40% by 2030 (compared to 2008 levels).

Use of zero or near-zero GHG emissions technologies, fuels and/or energy sources to represent at least 5% (striving for 10%) of international shipping energy use by 2030.

Reaching net-zero emissions from international shipping by or around 2050 (taking varying national circumstances into account) and pursuing efforts towards phasing them out...consistent with the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement.

New Indicative Checkpoints

In addition to confirming its latest ‘levels of ambition’ the IMO’s GHG Strategy 2023 sets out ‘indicative checkpoints’ that will be used to ensure the sector remains on track to achieve its decarbonization goals. These checkpoints include:

Reducing total annual international shipping GHG emissions by at least 20% (striving for 30%) by 2030 (compared to 2008 levels).

Reducing total annual international shipping GHG emissions by at least 70% (striving for 80%) by 2040 (compared to 2008 levels).

The enhanced emissions reduction goals set out in the GHG Strategy 2023 are clearly more ambitious than the initial 2018 strategy and the use of indicative checkpoints gives the industry clear short and mid-term guidelines to strive for.

Implementation via a 'Basket of Measures'

Although the IMO GHG Strategy 2023 sets out clear objectives, the short and mid-term implementation mechanisms are yet to be confirmed. However, the IMO states that ‘a basket of candidate measure(s)…should be developed and finalized’ and is expected to be comprised of both:

A technical element.

An economic element.

IMO Member States meeting at MEPC 80 to adopt the IMO Revised GHG Strategy 2023
IMO Member States meeting at MEPC 80 to adopt the IMO Revised GHG Strategy 2023

What impact will the GHG Strategy 2023 have?

Although the GHG Strategy 2023 strengthens emissions reductions targets and increases pressure on shipowners and operators to decarbonize it is not, in itself, legally binding. Until the IMO confirms the measures used to implement the latest strategy, we cannot be sure exactly how it will impact the industry.

It is evident, however, that the Strategy does seek to accelerate the decarbonization of the industry and aims to enable the sector to achieve the ‘well below 2°C’ limit set out in the Paris Agreement, although it's unlikely to stay within the 1.5°C limit according to the ICCT.

Given the objectives set out in the Strategy, we can, therefore, expect to see modifications to existing requirements, such as the EEDI, EEXI and/or CII, along with additional measures designed to incentivize shipowners and operators to accelerate their own decarbonization strategies.

Despite the IMO’s commitment achieving net-zero by or around 2050, many commentators have expressed disappointment that the GHG Strategy 2023 did not incorporate more ambitious emissions reductions targets, with John Maggs, President of the Clean Shipping Coalition, maintaining that a 50% cut in emissions by 2030 is both ‘possible and affordable’.

As we await confirmation of the ‘basket of measures’ that will be used to implement the GHG Strategy 2023 and its subsequent planned revision in 2028, there will inevitably be both praise and critique of the IMO’s stance. Yet, there is no doubt that the industry is moving ever closer to a sustainable future and forward-thinking shipping companies are already taking steps to decarbonize their respective fleets.

Successful Decarbonization Across the Shipping Industry

The strengthening of emissions reductions targets, combined with upcoming implementation measures, indicate that the sector will be subject to stricter emissions controls in the near and mid-term future. Fortunately, maritime decarbonization technologies, like Climeon’s award-winning HeatPower 300 Marine system, are already making it possible to increase on-board energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions.

HeatPower 300 Marine unit
Climeon's award-winning HeatPower 300 Marine unit

By converting on-board waste heat into clean electricity, for example, Climeon’s HeatPower 300 system generates sustainable energy, thus reducing fuel consumption and lowering emissions. Delivering measurable and notable emissions reductions when used in isolation, Climeon’s HeatPower 300 system can also be used in conjunction with additional decarbonization technologies to maximize emissions reductions and ensure compliance with upcoming regulations.

To find out how Climeon’s HeatPower 300 Marine systems can help to reduce emissions, cut fuel consumption and contribute to a sustainable future, download our latest White Paper now or contact a member of a Maritime Team today.