Greenhouse gas emissions

Transportation by sea is responsible for emitting 2-3 pct. of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions yearly. Denmark, along with other countries in the EU and International Maritime Organization (IMO), are working towards reducing GHG emissions from shipping related activities, in order to live up to the goals stated in the Paris Agreement.

Without regulation, GHG emissions from ships are expected to rise significantly towards 2050. Therefore, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping is an important issue on the international shipping policy agenda.

Denmark, along with others, are working on passing adopting measures in the IMO, to ensure that the global fleet becomes fossil-free as quick as possible. In addition, various initiatives are being undertaken in the EU, including developing alternative sustainable fuels, research and development of green maritime solutions.


In December 2019, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced the Green New Deal, which also included initiatives for the maritime sector.

The main goal of the Green New Deal is to become carbon neutral by 2050. It is expected that that the EU will adopt a new European climate policy and the initiatives from this policy will be announced throughout 2021. Read more about the Green New Deal on the EU commission's website here

Besides the Green New Deal, the EU has passed the MRV regulation, which is used for monitoring the CO2-emissions from ships. The regulation determines how monitoring, reporting and verification of information about, among other things, carbon emissions from ships that are arriving or departing from a port in the EU. The MRV regulation entered into force in in January 2018. The regulation prescribes the all ships must be issued a compliance document and subsequently be verified by an accredited organization. This document must be on board the ships and become the ship's proof that it is living up to its obligations.

In relation to enforcement, the regulation refers to the EU Port state control directive, so that the regulation can be enforced in relation with the port state control.


In the IMO its member states are negotiating a multitude of maritime related issues.

Negotiations are currently underway to agree on mitigation measures to help meet the reduction goals of the Initial IMO Strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The focus is first on the so-called short-term regulatory measures, which must be adopted and have an effect by 2023 and have an effect on the existing fleet. Denmark is working with other countries to set binding reduction targets for ships' operational CO2 intensity, that is, reduction targets for CO2 per ton of freight transported. In addition, Denmark is working to ensure that climate regulation also leads to a real reduction in greenhouse gases and provides incentives for investment in and use of both existing and new innovative green solutions.

In the coming years, discussions on medium and long-term regulatory measures will be addressed, including work on introducing alternative sustainable fuels as well as market-based measures that can ensure further reductions to make climate-neutral shipping a reality.

Already back in 2011, IMO adopted the first globally binding rules to reduce maritime CO2 emissions. This is done by utilizing the Energy Efficiency Index (EEDI), which sets energy efficiency standards in new vessels. In addition, a Ship Energy Efficiency Plan (SEEMP) is used, which is a tool for both new and existing ships to improve the vessels' operational energy efficiency.

The rules came into force in 2013. In addition, a number of resolutions and circulars have been adopted to implement the rules. By 2025, the EEDI rules for new ships' energy efficiency will be fully phased in.

DCS – IMO's CO2 Data Collection System

In 2016, the IMO Environmental Committee (MEPC) adopted a mandatory global maritime data collection system, a so-called Data Collection System (DCS). The new DCS system came into force on March 1, 2018, ensuring a structured monitoring and reporting of ship fuel consumption. The system is intended to help determine the ships' fuel consumption and their CO2 emissions.

The Initial IMO Strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships 

 IMO and shipping took a major step towards greener shipping when in April 2018 the first strategy (in English often called The Initial IMO GHG Strategy) for reducing greenhouse gases in shipping.

The strategy's overall goal is to achieve climate neutrality by the end of this century. In order to achieve climate neutrality, a number of sub-goals have been agreed:

  • By 2030, the CO2 emissions per transported tonnes of goods must be reduced by at least 40% compared to 2008, and efforts must be made to reach 70% by 2050.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions should peak as quickly as possible, and by 2050 a total reduction of all greenhouse gases of at least 50% should have been achieved compared to 2008. Efforts must be made to completely phase out greenhouse gases within this century

Paris Agreement and Shipping

International shipping was discussed as part of the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) negotiations on a global climate agreement at COP21 in 2015 in Paris. Despite the active efforts of Denmark and the EU to have the Paris Agreement address emissions from international shipping and aviation, international transport was not explicitly mentioned in the Paris Agreement.

Although shipping is not explicitly mentioned in the Paris Agreement, it must still meet the temperature objectives of the Paris Agreement. Consequently, the IMO is responsible for shipping to comply with the Paris Agreement.