Decarbonising long distance shipping 2020 – 2050


In 2018 historic targets were agreed within International Maritime Organization (IMO) to cut the total net global GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050, to reduce carbon intensity by at least 40% by 2030 compared to a 2008 benchmark and to completely decarbonise shipping by the end of the century.

Presently shipping accounts for around 2.5% of global GHG emissions and although ships are becoming more efficient, due to increasing global trade this contribution is increasing. These emissions are more than any EU state and if the sector was a country, it would rank as the sixth highest in the world. In 2015, shipping accounted for 13% of overall EU greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector[1]. Overwhelmingly, long distance shipping accounts for the majority of GHG emissions and its decarbonisation is particularly challenging. It is expected that solutions will need to combine a variety of technologies, operational practices, energy sources and efficiency measures. Furthermore, it will be essential to link any measures to robust data and measurements to better quantify their effectiveness and optimisations.


All following aspects should be addressed:

  • Working together with, for example operators, ship builders, marine equipment manufacturers, fuel and energy suppliers and others research will address the development of technologies combined with operational practices to substantially reduce GHG emissions from long distance shipping in line with the IMO target and without increasing other forms of pollution.
  • Excluding fuel development, a wide range of potential solutions can be proposed including the use of wind and solar assistance combined with efficiency improvements and other alternate energies. Solutions can be proposed in combination and should take into account the likely availability of infrastructure (including bunkering) on long distance routes.
  • Solutions should also take into account the CO2 equivalent from any reduction of black carbon emissions.
  • Costs, GHG reductions and any other potential waste streams shall be convincingly analysed using real data and testing programmes in addition to theoretical analysis.
  • Implications for the provision of new infrastructures shall be quantified and assessed.
  • To at least TRL5, technologies, systems and practices shall be tested at full scale on operational shipping. The differences between predicted and measured data should be identified.
  • Any reduction in GHG emissions that are founded upon innovative operational practices must be robustly benchmarked against the current state of the art, for example concerning ship routings and speeds through the use of “big” AIS “data“ and/or other satellite data.
  • A robust communication strategy should be developed and implemented so as to ensure wider public engagement as well as a strong engagement with the global shipping sector and its customers.
  • Cooperation with IMO and EU activities and fora concerning the decarbonisation of shipping is encouraged. Build upon and cooperate with any related activities and research.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 5 to 10 million would allow the specific challenge to be addressed appropriately.

Expected Impact:

Development of innovative solutions to decarbonise shipping that exceed the IMO’s 2050 target to decarbonise by 50% and which are applicable to ship types that are the largest emitters of GHGs such as: bulk carriers, tankers, container ships, cruise ships and passenger liners. Establishment of robust benchmarks and methods which will provide wide confidence of the “real world” impacts from any specific GHG reduction measure including potential scalability and any secondary environmental impacts. Improve the competitiveness of European maritime industries and shipping companies within the field of green shipping. Increase the awareness and take up by end users. Provide evidence to policy makers within EU and globally concerning infrastructure requirements necessary to meet the 2050 decarbonisations target.

Application Deadline: 08 September 2020 17:00:00 Brussels time
Photo: Energy Observer (Crédits: AccorHotels / Energy Observer)  Source: CEA



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