Reducing Maritime Emissions

The goal of reaching 50 percent carbon reduction by 2050 is gaining momentum. Players are charting the path with equipment and technology upgrades in an effort to obtain zero emissions.

In June, IMO focused on addressing climate change challenges at an environmental protection forum. Participants discussed a way forward for reducing ship emissions and transitioning to a greener industry.


While technologies and satellites monitor global carbon emissions, data analysis tracks the source, opening the door for changes. From ports to ships, information about the origin of high carbon levels allows leaders to address the problem by balancing profits against environmental considerations.

In 2020, data from tracking CO2 emissions showed the level of carbon released by top shipping fleets in geographical areas. Smaller vessels tend to have a lower emission rate than larger vessels. Speed also plays a role in the amount of carbon released during transport.

By reducing a vessel’s speed, executives may save millions of tons in carbon emission over the course of a year. Private companies must decide how to balance the demand against the commitment to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. Additional paths to reducing emissions include fuel, route, and load optimization.


Increasing research funding is a vital step toward developing no-carbon ships in the next decade. IMO and industry partners are spearheading a multi-billion-dollar effort to develop prototypes for zero-carbon technologies and fuels for maritime shipping.

Industry trade groups are calling for a carbon tax to help fund research. The challenge to meet decarbonization milestones is intense, with industry leaders giving priority to high-efficiency ships and developing new, effective ways to reduce emissions.