Skip to main content

IMO updated GHG strategy


MEPC 80 initiated a comprehensive impact assessment to analyse the economic consequences of so-called “mid-term policy measures”, which will be completed by Autumn 2024.

This assessment will lay the foundation for the ambition of adopting

  1. A goal-based marine fuel standard regulating the phased reduction of marine fuels, and
  2. A carbon pricing mechanism, both in 2025 and subsequently to enter into force from 2027.  

The timeline below provides a top level overview for the implementation of mid-term measures.

IMO MEPC80 outcomes

Timeline for implementation of mid-term measures

July 2023

2023 GHG strategy agreed.

April 2024

Interim report on mid term measures.

FInalise basket of mid-term measures.

Autumn 2024

Final report on mid-term measure candidates.

Spring 2025

Review of short term measures (to be completed latest 1/1/26).

Extraordinary MPEC - six months after MPEC 83 for adoption of mid-term measures.

Spring 2026

Approval of measures review of CII & EEXI.

Sixteen months after adoption of mid-term measures, entry into force (expected early 2027).


The green transition is accelerating and the impact on the shipping industry is increasingly being driven by new and complex emissions regulation and policies.


The shipping industry accounts for 2.3% of global emissions but remains the most carbon efficient mode of transport. Whilst 2023 has seen two new major regulations from the IMO (EEXI and CII) to help meet 2030 carbon intensity reduction targets, environmental initiatives are not new to the shipping industry. Below, we have provided a full historical and future looking timeline that recognises the industry’s pathway to cleaner shipping.

Emissions controlled Area


Also known as ECAs, these are sea areas where stricter controls around airborne emissions from ships have been established. The IMO has designated several key sea areas to be ECAs, mainly limiting emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides from ships’ exhausts, but also particulate matter and other ozone depleting substances. Other countries/regions have also established their own ECAs, for example South Korea. In 2006, the Baltic Sea became the first IMO ECA in effect.

ECA: North Sea


The North Sea becomes the second IMO ECA in effect.

ECA: North America


The third ECA comes into effect, covering the US and Canadian coastlines.



The Energy Efficiency Design Index (‘EEDI’) becomes mandatory for new ships. This technical measure promotes more energy efficient equipment and engines. The Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (‘SEEMP’) becomes compulsory for all ships. This operational measure provides an approach for management of ship and fleet efficiency performance over time using indicators as monitoring tools.

ECA: US Caribbean


The fourth ECA comes into effect, covering US Caribbean waters.

The Paris Agreement


International treaty to limit the global average temperature increase in this century to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels through the reduction of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.



In April 2016, the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) welcomes the Paris Agreement and acknowledges the efforts already implemented by IMO to enhance the energy efficiency of ships and that further appropriate improvements related to shipping emissions can and should be pursued. The role of the IMO is recognised as crucial for mitigating the impact of GHG emissions from shipping. In October 2016, the IMO’s roadmap for developing a strategy on emissions reduction is approved, with the strategy fully adopted in 2018.



In April 2018, the IMO’s ‘Initial GHG Strategy’ is adopted, setting out the three key emissions targets for the shipping industry via measures for the short, mid and long-term. The targets are 1) to reduce the average carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of transport ‘work’) of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030 and 2) by at least 70% by 2050, and 3) to reduce total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050, all relative to a 2008 baseline.

The Poseidon Principles


Alongside regulation, a number of voluntary commitments have been formalised, including the Poseidon Principles which provides a global framework for integrating climate considerations into lending decisions to promote international shipping decarbonisation. With almost 30 signatories the initiative represents around USD185 billion in shipping finance.

"IMO 2020"


Known as IMO 2020, the global limit on the sulphur content in ships’ fuel was reduced from 3.5% to 0.5%. This resulted in an estimated 77% drop in sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships. To meet this regulation, some ships switched to compliant fuels, including very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), and some vessels were fitted with ‘scrubbers’ to clean exhaust gas.

The Sea Cargo Charter


Developed by a diverse group of cargo owners, this voluntary commitment provides a global framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of chartering activities worldwide. The Charter is consistent with the IMO’s GHG targets for shipping. It is applicable to bulk ship charterers and has commitment from more than 30 leading global charterers and operators.



Entry into force of short-term GHG measures from the IMO involving segment specific minimum ship-by-ship technical energy efficiency standards (‘EEXI’) and an annual carbon intensity reduction ship rating program (‘CII’) based on operational performance.

How we can help


The IMO adopts its 2023 IMO GHG Strategy – a stronger revision of the 2018 strategy. This new strategy envisions a Just and Equitable transition and sets expectations for the sector and future policy measures to strive for 30% GHG reductions by 2030, 80% GHG reductions by 2040, and an overall ambition of reaching net-zero as close to 2050 as possible.

Read the full strategy


Shipping will be included in the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS) from 1st January 2024. Commercial operators of ships above 5,000 GT will be required to surrender emission allowances (EUAs) each year (from 2025) to cover their relevant CO2 emissions for the previous year, with costs phased in over 3 years. Offshore vessels 5,000+ GT will be included from 2027. The EU ETS is an emissions ‘cap-and-trade’ system where a limited amount of emission allowances are auctioned each year to be traded, with this cap reduced each year in line with the EU’s target of a 55% net reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.

Fuel EU Maritime and fifth ECA


The Fuel EU Maritime proposal, part of the EU’s “Fit for 55” package of key climate policies, is due to come into effect. The proposed regulation introduces increasingly strict limits on the GHG intensity of the energy used by commercial vessels of 5,000+ GT, at EU ports and on voyages between EU ports, driving the increased use of alternative fuels. The GHG intensity of the energy used will be assessed on a ‘well-to-wake’ basis and the initial proposal requires an improvement of 2% in 2025 relative to 2020, ramping up to 75% by 2050. Recently confirmed, the fifth IMO ECA will cover the Mediterranean Sea.

EEXI & CII Review


The MEPC will review the effectiveness of the implementation of the CII and EEXI requirements by 1st January 2026 at the latest and, if necessary, develop further amendments as required to meet reduction targets. Other ‘mid-term measures’ may be adopted to strengthen or replace the CII. CII is currently measured in carbon intensity, and therefore out of line with the updated IMO GHG reduction targets. It is likely that the metric used will be updated and therefore how it is enforced.

IMO GHG Reduction Strategy review


The IMO GHG reduction strategy is due for further revision in 2028, and every 5 years thereafter. In 2028, just as in 2023, there will be more understanding and experience of the technologies and fuel shipping needs in the transition. It is plausible that there will be further upwards revisions in order to drive the 2040 and 2050 targets.

IMO’s target deadline


By 2030, the shipping industry’s total GHG emissions must have reduced by at least 20%, striving for 30%, compared to 2008 levels, ensuring the industry continues its progression towards 2040 and 2050 goals. By 2030 the uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emissions technologies, fuels, and/or energy sources should represent at least 5%, striving for 10%, of the energy used by shipping.

Indicative checkpoint


The IMO introduces an indicative checkpoint to ensure progression toward 2050 goals. By 2040, the industry must have reduced total GHG emissions by at least 70% striving for 80%, compared to 2008.

Net Zero


At MEPC80, a revision to the 2018 strategy saw an ambitious new target set to peak GHG emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and to reach net-zero GHG emissions by or around 2050, taking into account different national circumstances.

teal background
teal background

What is EEXI and CII?

Understand more about the 2023 regulation that is driving the industry to lower carbon intensity.

What is EEXI and CII?
teal background
teal background

How we're helping clients to navigate the impact of CII

Understand more about our CII services and how we're working closely with clients to navigate impact and mitigate risk.

Read more about our CII services